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It may seem like too simple of a solution, but that is not what the officials and scientists along the southern California coast are saying: they are claiming that LA’s new plan to combat climate change, painting streets white, will drop temperatures over the next two decades.

California has been experiencing record-breaking heat and drought for months; in some areas of the state, that estimate turns into years. The warmer weather and other climatic shifts are causing health, infrastructure, and economic problems for the entire Los Angeles metro area.

Urban Heat Island EffectEagle Painting Company

Cities are prone to overheating to begin with. This stems from something that climate scientists have dubbed the “urban heat island effect.” Cities are short on trees; this reduces shade. Cities are inundated with black or dark grey pavement; this absorbs heat from the sun. Large cities have skyscrapers and glass-walled building too numerous to tally; these reflective surfaces bounce heat and light, and trap it close to the ground. Cities have increased traffic, which generates a smothering blanket of smoke and airborne pollutants; this can trap more heat radiation, and prevent it from dissipating for days at a time.

Los Angeles has long been a leader in environmental innovations, often out of necessity. Because there would otherwise always be a water shortage, L.A. has one of the world’s most sophisticated water treatment systems, recycling more water than any other U.S. city in order to decrease the importation costs of water by the truckload. L.A. pioneered alternative commute solutions long before any other metro area even considered them. Did you know that rental bikes got their start in the Valley of the Sun?

But it still doesn’t seem to be quite enough.

The average temperature in a city of a million-plus people can easily be more than 5 degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside. L.A. is no exception. City officials have been seeking solutions to the increasing, potentially fatal temperature trauma.

Combat Climate Change

They may have found it, in a product called CoolSeal. This gray paint keeps streets and parking lots about 10 degrees cooler than black, uncoated asphalt. Engineers developed this product for the military, with an intention of keeping planes cool on the hot tarmac.

CoolSeal has been picked up, with gusto, by L.A. city planners. Air quality will see improvement, because commuters will not have to run so much air conditioning as they idle in traffic. During extreme heat waves, people will not be in as much danger, because the overall ambient temperature of the city will be lower.

Combat Climate ChangeWe are not saying this is the only solution needed to combat the issues facing the city. Painting the streets and parking lots is not going to fix everything in one fell swoop. More trees, developing more sustainable energy and cooling solutions, and controlling the reflective radiation from the buildings and other structures of the city would do more to help. But LA, by its very existence, may never be a cool-to-the-touch paradise. It will probably always be hotter than grandma’s chili in summer.

But let’s face it. That’s kinda why we like it. It’s a literal hotbed for our movie and music industries, and we like our movies sizzling. Or, at least, so say the critics.

What do you think? Is L.A.’s plan going to work? Or is it a waste of time, manpower, and money?

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