Monday, May 27, 2024

Why Did Los Angeles Paint Its Streets White This Summer?

Here is something I’ve noticed living in Texas this summer: It’s really, really hot. In fact, the whole country has been experiencing record heat temperatures this summer, with Northwest havens like Portland reaching 109 degrees.

No state has been feeling the heat more than California, though. Multiple areas of the state have reached record highs this summer, and some scientists believe the temperatures are a result of climate change.

Wherever you politically stand on the issue, Los Angeles isn’t taking chances anymore. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti intends to reduce the average temperature of the city by 3 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 20 years.

See cities, particularly a sprawling metropolis like Los Angeles, can experience what’s called urban heat island. Due to the increased human activity packed tightly together, it tends to raise the overall temperature of a city. Things like large skyscrapers, reduced air flow from packed-in infrastructure, asphalt streets, and just more mouth-breathers play a factor. An easy way to think about it is the difference you feel wearing black jeans vs. khaki shorts on a hot day.

Cities therefore can be up to five degrees F hotter than its surrounding rural areas and on scorching summer days, that heat could prove lethal.

So Los Angeles is painting its streets in a gray-colored coating called CoolSeal. The paint reflects sun rays, and was originally used to keep spy planes cool while they rest on the tarmac. That way the spy plans don’t give off heat once again in the air, as satellite-mounted infrared cameras could otherwise detect them.

“We found that on average the area covered in CoolSeal is 10 degrees cooler than black asphalt on the same parking lot,” a city official told the Washington Post. “We thought it was really interesting. It’s almost like treated asphalt warms at a lower rate.”

City officials also stated that Los Angeles is the first city to make such an initiative. The cooled streets will also help Los Angeles residents with air conditioning bills that can skyrocket in the summer. However, the city intends to do much more to battle climate change moving forward.

“This is an urgent challenge, and it’s much bigger than one person,” Mayor Garcetti announced in a recent statement. “Climate change is a fact of life that people in Los Angeles and cities around the world live with every day.”


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