What is the urban heat island problem and how big of a problem is it?



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    When open land and vegetation are replaced by cities (roads, buildings, etc.) , the environment becomes less and less moist and permeable (easy for liquids and gases to penetrate). This, along with roofs and pavement’s ability to trap heat and the lack of tree shade, causes the city to become warmer while the surrounding areas retain their usual temperatures, creating a “hot island.”

    This is mostly a big problem in large cities (such as San Francisco or LA) because they cover so much of the land with pavement and have so many more buildings in proportion to parks and grass than more suburban or rural areas. 

    This affects many things, such as electricity use (use more electricity to cool our homes in the summer because of the high temperatures), which increases pollution as well; human health (heat and pollution cause general discomfort as well as respiratory problems); etc.

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