Cities around the world face a number of challenges, including infrastructure, safety, economic, and environmental challenges. In its recent report Planting Healthy Air, the Nature Conservancy and C40 Cities collaborated to examine two major environmental challenges that impact health: particulate matter pollution and extreme heat.
Fine particulate matter, which is emitted from a variety of sources, including burning agricultural residues, fuelwood, and fossil fuels, is currently estimated to cause 3.2 million deaths per year globally. By 2050, its projected that fine particulate matter could kill up to 6.2 million people per year.
Extreme heat is also a major health concern. Currently extreme heat kills an estimated 12,000 people annually (and makes life miserable for billions more.) By 2050, it’s projected that deaths from heat waves could reach 260,000.
Though these are very serious issues, taking a heavy toll on our cities. There is a solution. And it is beautifully simple. Plant trees.
The Nature Conservancy and C40 found that trees already provide a large benefit to millions of people. They estimate that trees already provide on average 63.6 million people at least a 1 – 10 micrograms/m3 reduction in particulate matter. Further, they estimate that trees already provide 68.3 million people a .09 – 3.6° F reduction in summer temperatures.
In addition to reducing particulate matter and heat, trees provide a number of benefits. They’re nice to look at. They increase property values, provide erosion prevention, storm water management, and noise reduction. When climbed and swung from, trees also provide countless hours of fun.
Trees are as – if not more – cost effective at reducing particulate matter and heat as many gray alternatives like carbon fans. However, when all of these benefits are considered, it is easy to see that tree maintenance and planting is a great multi-benefit, cost-effective solution to be incorporated into a city’s efforts to improve its residents’ lives.
Read the full report: Planting Healthy Air