Hurricane Harvey Puts The Texas Trees Foundation’s Work Into Context

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – At the time of writing this story, Hurricane Harvey is hitting Texas with severe weather; it’s the first major hurricane to hit Texas in nine years and has been devastating—"an unprecedented" weather event. The storm puts the work of the Texas Trees Foundation into context, which has released findings from the 2017 Dallas Urban Heat Island Effect report, as a wake-up call for Dallas and North Texas. The yearlong study concludes that, “Cities do not cause heat waves – they amplify them, as human activities on climate at city scale, may be twice as great as the impacts of greenhouse gases alone.” Dallas is on the cusp of a new era, with a growing population and booming economy. And there is also a renewed spirit of optimism that is driving the city to address some of its most persistent challenges.

This report reveals that Dallas is heating up faster than every city in the States except for Phoenix. Plus, with 35% solid surfaces such as rooftops, parking lots, highways, etc. - Dallas is hot – and getting hotter. It shows that heat-related deaths peaked at 52 in 2011 in Dallas County, while heat-related deaths in the US accounts for more deaths annually than all other natural disasters combined. Further, childhood asthma rates are at an all-time high, with nearly 10% of all Dallas children suffering from asthma. However, the research also revealed that planting trees in the hottest, dense residential areas, reduced deaths by more than 20% by dropping the temperature! Data has long affirmed that trees are vital to helping reduce rising temperatures. 

Urban areas retain heat in the buildings and pavement, and are up to 15°F warmer than rural areas where trees and open space are more prevalent. The ramifications of urban heat adversely affect public health, longevity of infrastructure, and the economy. It’s also widely accepted that with rising temperatures come higher costs for energy and a threat to energy supplies. The Texas Trees Foundation is focused on making spaces cooler, greener and cleaner; it’s urging local communities to help reduce the urban heat island effect for the sake of health, the economy and viability of the community. 

Corporate partners like Alliance Data, Wells Fargo, and American Forests who funded this study understand the impact of urban heat to their bottom line. They know from their partnership with the Foundation and this study’s data that health is directly impacted when temperatures increase and air quality declines. Ed Heffernan, President and CEO, Alliance Data says, “With a dual perspective from my seat as Chairman of the Board for Children’s Health System of Texas, and as the leader of a Fortune 500 company headquartered in North Texas, the economic impact of the rising temperatures in Dallas has never been more at risk.”

The Foundation’s report offers cost-effective solutions to making Dallas one of the coolest cities in the country, by strategically planting trees in parks, school yards, along streets and other public rights-of-way and providing urban forestry consultation services to create a better quality of life throughout the region.

Photo Credit: Texas Trees Foundation