Americans, in general, tend to take for granted their affluence. Compared to the rest of the world, we are fabulously wealthy. That relative wealth and ease of living tends to allow us to become, upon occasion, frivolous, to focus on issues—global warming being an obvious example—others not so fortunate would never get around to considering. But even in American society, there are those who not only jump and shark in such matters, they go full, bullgoose loony. Never go full, bullgoose loony.
I speak, of course, of Californians, particularly, the resident of Los Angeles, as the LA Times reports in a story titled: LA’s mayor wants to lower the city’s temperature. These scientists are figuring out how to do it.
Soak up these rainy days, Southern California. They are not going to last forever.
Summer will be here before you know it, and if recent trends continue, it will likely be a hot one.
Globally, 2016 was the warmest year on record. Here in Los Angeles, temperature records were shattered last summer during scorching heat waves that saw highs of 100 degrees for five days straight.
Those poor Angelenos! 100 degrees for five days in a row?! The horror. Those of us living in North Texas—and quite a few other places in America—are staring at that in amazement. Only 100 degrees, and for only five days in a row? Those poor special snowflakes!
Uh, actually, 2016 wasn’t the hottest year on record. As with so much else having to do with climate, “scientists” cooked the books. In fact, any increase in temperature was well within the margin of measurement error, and we’re not talking degrees in single digits, but fractions of a degree. Not a good start for such an article…
If you think the city is too hot, you’ve got company at City Hall. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti agrees, and he wants to do something about it.
As part of a sweeping plan to help L.A. live within its environmental means, Garcetti has pledged to reduce the average temperature in the metropolis by 3 degrees over the next 20 years.
He’s going to reduce the temperature. The mayor of LA has the power to change the climate in and around Los Angeles. We aren’t close to a full understanding of climate—to say nothing of weather—and a Democrat politician is going to change climate in a large region? But hey, there is no limit to progressive virtue signaling, so why not? Progressive politicians are virtual messiahs, aren’t they?
Climate models suggest that by 2050, the temperature in downtown L.A. will exceed 95 degrees 22 days per year. In 1990, only six days were that warm. The San Fernando Valley is expected to see 92 days of this extreme heat per year, compared with 54 in 1990.
Ah yes, “climate models.” No doubt the same climate models that have, in relation to global warming, proved to be uniform failures in their predictive powers. And again, exceeding 95 degrees is “extreme heat? It’s a miracle any Californian has survived this long.
Climate change is primarily responsible for the warming trend [it’s responsible for everything, isn’t it?], but it’s not the only force at work. Angelenos are also contending with an additional layer of misery caused by what’s known as the ‘urban heat island effect.’ It means that cities — with their asphalt streets, dark roofs, sparse vegetation and car-clogged roads — are almost always a few degrees warmer than the more rural areas that surround them.
Uh-huh. Put a great number of people and heat generation sources in a small–relatively speaking–area, and that will tend to raise the temperature alright. Thanks goodness we have brilliant climate scientists around to tell us these things.
The mayor’s plan to cool the region won’t compensate for all the effects of climate change.
‘We can’t geoengineer the atmosphere,’ said Matt Petersen, chief sustainability officer for the office of the mayor.
What? A bit of humility and recognition of reality from a bureaucrat? Pray, tell us more…
What we are trying to do is create a research collective to help us reach our target,’ Petersen said. ‘It’s a huge challenge.’
The city has already teamed up with USC environmental engineer George Ban-Weiss. A veteran of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Heat Island Group, he said there is no better place to test different ways of reducing urban heat than L.A.’ [skip]
The built environment is mostly responsible for the problem. More than half of city surfaces are covered by dark pavements and dark roofs. Traditional asphalt absorbs up to 90% of the sun’s radiation. As the asphalt gets hotter, it warms the air around it, adding to the overall heat. Even after the sun goes down, that accumulated heat lingers for hours and continues to transfer warmth to the night air.
One way to combat this heat sink is to replace the city’s streets and sidewalks with high-tech materials that reflect more sunlight and stay cooler during the day and at night. Some of these ‘cool pavements’ reflect light only in the infrared part of the spectrum, which we cannot see.
“Replace the city’s streets and sidewalks with high-tech materials.” Replace the sidewalks and streets of Los Angeles. With which sort of “high-tech” material? What kind of unobtanium would be involved, and doesn’t “high-tech” anything tend to be a bit, you know, pricey? Have the Mayor and his brain trust bothered to computer model what that would cost? No doubt the Mayor will ask President Trump for that money, just as soon as he turns over every illegal immigrant and finishes paying for the high-speed rail to nowhere project. I also seem to remember that California’s inadequate highways, crumbling bridges and other infrastructure, including at least one enormous dam with an emergency spillway that is actually collapsing as I write these words, might require a few of California’s available funds before anyone begins trying to change the planet’s climate.
Scientists and policymakers are also investigating ‘cool roofs’ and their potential to reduce the overall temperature of the city. Studies have found that in Los Angeles, widespread deployment of cool roofs could reduce the city’s temperature by as much as 2 degrees Fahrenheit.
But it’s unlikely that a single strategy will be the most effective option for all neighborhoods.
‘The heat island effect is a regional phenomenon, and the way you choose your mitigation strategy could vary block to block,’ Ban-Weiss said.
Right. “Block to block.” They’re going to replace roofs and streets and sidewalks, and tailor such replacement to the unique character of every block in Los Angeles. Do these people actually have any work to do? Have they recently received severe blows to their heads?
To address the hyper-local nature of the heat island effect, Ban-Weiss and his graduate students are modeling microclimates of areas as small as a few city blocks. They started with a neighborhood in El Monte, a city that is relatively warm compared to its surroundings.
After painstakingly building a computer model that included each tree and building, the researchers were able to analyze the effects of various heat mitigation strategies, comparing how it would feel if streets had more reflective surfaces, if every grassy yard were shaded by trees, and if every roof were covered in grass.
Uh, correct me if I’m wrong, and I’m not a brilliant California climate scientist, but roofs made of grass—presumably not the smoking kind, but in CA, you never know–need daily watering, don’t they? Where’s all that water going to come from? Isn’t a permanent lack of water just another infrastructure issue Californians have been ignoring for decades? Shouldn’t they put their money into that? On the other hand, with this kind of brilliance:
They found that cool roofs and green roofs had little effect on the thermal comfort of a person walking down the street, and that putting more trees in unshaded areas was the most effective cooling strategy. However, in areas that were already shady, the most significant effect came from cool pavements.
Areas with a lot of shade feel cooler to people than areas without. Wow. Who could thunk it? I wonder how much consultants charged for that insight?
Ban-Weiss and his collaborators used computer models to identify regions of greater Los Angeles that are particularly hot compared with the areas around them (downtown L.A., Northridge), and those that are particularly cool (South Pasadena, San Marino).
Working with heat island researchers at Lawrence Berkeley and with funding from the California Energy Commission, he is installing about a dozen high-tech weather stations to measure these hot and cool islands and watch how they change over time.
‘We’re spending a lot of time and going to a good deal of effort to determine the best places to put these weather stations,’ Ban-Weiss said. ‘We want to make sure that we put them in locations that will measure the heat island effect, and not the signal from the ocean.’
That’s why two of Ban-Weiss’ grad students spent weeks roaming the streets of Los Angeles with a tube-shaped contraption on the roof of their car. The tube, designed at Lawrence Berkeley, holds a needle-thin thermometer that Arash Mohegh and Mo Chen have been squiring around, searching for pockets of heat.
The job is tedious. To get accurate measurements, they spend hours weaving up and down streets in their target neighborhoods. They visited the San Fernando Valley on a particularly scorching day in June.
‘We’re about to go from an industrial area to a more residential neighborhood, so we’ll see how the temperature changes,’ Mohegh said as Chen steered the car through Chatsworth.
Sure enough, as blocky office buildings gave way to tree-lined streets with green lawns, the dashboard thermometer dropped from 102 to 100 degrees.
Let’s think about this for a minute, gentle readers. If it’s a bit breezy on the day Mohegh and Chen are trolling an area, won’t that affect their readings? Do they factor in such issues as wind, humidity, shade, and barometric pressure? I’m sure computer models can assimilate all of this, can’t they? Oh, and tree-lined streets are cooler than city streets bordered by office buildings? How much are these guys getting paid for this gig, and how can I get a cut?
Petersen said work like this will help the city identify which areas should be targeted for cooling and which strategies will work best. By 2019, he hopes to have a better idea of how realistic the goal of lowering the temperature by 3 degrees really is, as well as the best way to achieve it.
How realistic? How about it gentle readers: how realistic is this?
With all of California’s problems, with its collapsing finances, with middle class, tax-paying citizens fleeing the state as quickly as they can, with state politicians threatening to make California a “sanctuary” state, ritually insulting President Trump and the rest of America while simultaneously begging for federal dollars, the Mayor of Los Angeles thinks this a rational thing to do?
Californians are crazier than I thought.