By Hwaa Irfan
Hands up those of you who have spotted a man made water fountain spouting gallons of water into the air while moving around the city. Looks good does it not? Makes one feel refreshed (psychologically speaking) if one has enough time to stare at it, and if one gets really close one might even feel cooler for about 10 seconds, if that.
– Do you know where all that water is going to?
– Never thought about it?
Neither did the town planner-cum-architect by the look of it. Unless all that water is feeding – irrigating a public garden/park it is outright insanity to be wasting all that water in a time when countries are worried about water security.
If the gallons of water being wasted to make the town cosmetically attractive could be directed into watering local gardens and parks, there would be greater benefit for all all-round. If one can get shade from a tree, how much more temperature reduction there would be in a vicinity.
Your Microclimate and Water
One would feel less burdened, less irritated, and more predisposed to adding less stress to the stress barometer in one’s home, work, and one’s environ in general if one did not have to cope with the additional burden of city heat. City heat due to its great architectural design and layout can seem like a microwave oven in comparison to the countryside because a) trapped heat contributed by ultra-violet rays from the sun bouncing off concrete and deflecting onto us poor humans, and b) it is missing out on the transpiration factor from trees which reduces summertime temperature, and stabilize cold temperatures in the winter as wind breakers.
In addition, one can actually consider using less energy and paying smaller bills to keep one’s home or office cool.
Your Microclimate and Pollution
By increasing the land coverage with vegetation there would also be a reduction in pollution thus increasing the good health of the local population. The leaves have structures that absorb pollution which once inside the leaves diffuses some of the pollutants – isn’t God ingenious! The leaves also retain particles on their surface, which either gets blown away, washed off by rain, but we do not get away that easily with our bad habits, because it then enters the soil.
This information is not new, and much ‘research’ as in most ares of life have been done, but is it not time to stop researching and to start implementing this knowledge – the London Green Belt is a good example of that! As far back as 1994 it was noted that trees in the most urban of cities, New York City had removed approximately 1,821 metric tons of pollutants. When was the last time you breathed clean air?
What you can do, is organize with others to turn off those local fountains, and to see what can be done about planting more vegetation in one’s area. It is disheartening to gaze upon dying vegetation, so see what arrangements can be made with the local council to have those city water fountains adapted so that the gallons of water they spout feeds into nearby vegetation. In the long term it is worth it and cost effective to have a cooler urban environment, cleaner urban air, reduced demand for electricity, reduced bills, and a more pleasant and calming environment!
Investigate the plants like climbers that grow quickly (be mindful, some are invasive and poisonous), and those that bear evergreen leaves -but don’t block out that summer breeze! By talking to others in your locality about doing something constructive about this problem one breaks down barriers, strengthen one’s social network, create a common purpose, and may even have a safer place to live in if those relationships are maintained! Also, more trees in the long term, attract the natural music of birds!
Escobedo, F. Et al “Air Pollution Removal and Temperature Reduction by Gainesville’s Urban Forest” http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fr278
Novak, D. “Effects of Urban Trees on Air Quality.” http://www.coloradotrees.org/benefits/Effects%20of%20Urban%20Trees%20on%20Air%20Quality.pdf