A Plan to Cool Off the Hottest Neighborhoods

As the climate changes, hyperlocal projects are helping keep disadvantaged areas livable.

In Yonkers, maps showing which neighborhoods were once formally designated for Black families can be almost overlapped with maps of where the city is hottest. These are neighborhoods with few trees, block after block of concrete parking lots and shadeless streets soaking up the sun all day and radiating heat all night. The work of planting trees in neighborhoods like these, as well as installing rain gardens, removing pavement, and making sure that the elderly can afford air-conditioning, might seem like small potatoes compared with the high-powered policy making necessary to stop climate change on the global or national level. But unlike those top-down approaches, hyperlocal adaptation can proceed even if climate-change deniers are elected to national office or international negotiation grinds to a halt.

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