The good news: The AZ Republic actually published a front page story (link now fixed) on the urban heat island effect in Phoenix, and has a discussion of how changes in ground cover, vegetation, and landscaping can have substantial effects on temperatures, even over short distances. Roger Pielke would be thrilled, as he has trouble getting even the UN IPCC to acknowledge this fact.
The bad news: The bad news comes in three parts
- The whole focus of the story is staged in the context of rich-poor class warfare, as if the urban heat island effect is something the rich impose on the poor. It is clear that without this class warfare angle, it probably would never have made the editorial cut for the paper.
- In putting all the blame on “the rich,” they miss the true culprit, which are leftish urban planners whose entire life goal is to increase urban densities and eliminate suburban “sprawl” and 2-acre lots. But it is the very densities that cause the poor to live in the hottest temperatures, and it is the 2-acre lots that shelter “the rich” from the heat island effects.
- Not once do the authors take the opportunity to point out that such urban heat island effects are likely exaggerating our perceptions of Co2-based warming — that in fact some or much of the warming we ascribe to Co2 is actually due to this heat island effect in areas where we have measurement stations.
I am still wondering why Phoenix doesn’t investigate lighter street paving options. They use all black asphalt, and just changing this approach (can you have lighter asphalt?) would be a big help. By the way, our house is all white with a white foam roof, so we are doing our part to fight the heat island!