Hot under the collar about city planning

We tend to talk about things like the urban heat island as issues of comfort and cost, but in Australia the urban heat island has become a life-or-death consideration.

As Melbourne’s paper The Age, reports, in the heatwave that the country has suffered recently, elevated temperatures in city centres can be measured in an increased number of deaths. Almost as many people die as a result of heat in Melbourne every year as are killed on the roads.

This is not just the subject of hand wringing. The city is both studying the problem – by taking thermographic images – and resolving to do something about it by increasing the amount of vegetation and reducing heat-absorbing black areas. Too many people may think of trees and plants as simply an amenity – but they can be life-savers.

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