By Alex P. Vidal
“Heat waves make you appreciate the crispness of fall.”—Anonymous
THE scorching heat wave has reached us. At past 12 noon on July 27 (Thursday), I experienced its brutality when I walked for 15 minutes from Park Avenue to the Tim Hortons on 3rd Avenue in the Upper East Manhattan.
It’s not a joke.
I had to cut short my walk outside and decided to go back before I would experience a heat stroke, God forbid.
As feared earlier, as nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population faces heat advisories this week, people in urban areas are more likely to experience higher temperatures—and New York City has the highest average of the urban heat island (UHI) index out of 44 large cities that were analyzed by Climate Central.
That means that on a 90°F day in rural upstate New York, people living or working in downtown Manhattan with a UHI index value of 8.6°F would experience temperatures of at least 98.6°F, according to NBC 4 New York.
The city of Newark in New Jersey reportedly came in second (8.4°F) when the UHI index values were averaged by the city’s total area, according to the analysis released July 26 (Wednesday) by the nonprofit group of scientists.
According to the analysis, the average UHI index per capita was lowest in Wichita (7.2°F) and highest in NYC (9.5°F), followed by San Francisco (8.8°F), Chicago and Miami (8.3°F), and Seattle (8.2°F).
But what makes the heat so much worse (about 15-20 degrees) in our cities compared to rural areas, and what can be done to alleviate the extreme heat that’s expected to worsen due to climate change?
Cities are generally hotter due to the simple fact that about 85 percent of people in the country live in metropolitan areas, according to the National Climate Assessment.
When we add on the number of buildings and other hard, dark surfaces that reflect back sunlight, the heat gets worse. Those reflections are called albedo, and they’re considered the largest influence on what is known as the urban heat island effect, NBC 4 New York’s Kiki Intarasuwan observed.
Other aspects of city life such as the heating and cooling of said buildings, transportation, and industrial facilities are also contribute to the urban heat island effect.
According to Climate Central, air conditioning can add 20 percent more heat to the outside air.
The designs of each city also play a huge role in how these hot spots are distributed, Climate Central’s analysis found. New York City and Newark are considered to be dominated by sprawling heat intensity, meaning that high UHI index values are not concentrated in one area but rather spread out.
While New York City is considered one of the cities with sprawling heat intensity, city officials say there are still parts of the city that are hotter than others.
According to satellite data collected by the City Council’s Data Operations Unit, south and southeast Brooklyn and southeast Queens experience higher temperatures compared to the rest of the five boroughs.
ON TOO MUCH KNOWLEDGE. “He knows too much!” We often heard this in debates and public fora. President Bongbong Marcos Jr. “knew too much,” his fans cheered after his recent SONA. Many politicians and sales executives are impressive because “they know too much.”
But nobody knows too much. Nobody ever yet knew enough. We cannot have too much knowledge, any more than we can have too much health.
What we really mean when we say a person knows too much is that he knows too little, and is too positive about it.
An ignorant man’s mind is just as full of ideas as a wise man’s mind. But his ideas are wrong. There are just as many plants growing in his garden as in the wise man’s garden, but they are weeds.
Enemies to knowledge are egotism, sensitiveness and pride. These things keep us from being teachable. They build a wall around us, so that knowledge cannot get in.
The surest way to get knowledge is not to advertise that we have it. About the wisest man that ever lived was Socrates, and he was fond of saying of himself that he knew nothing at all.
TO MAKE CITIES LESS HOT. We must plant more trees. Trees help remove air pollutants that can trigger respiratory illnesses, reducing stormwater run-off
keeping the city cooler, providing shelter and food for wildlife, and even help reducing energy used by buildings, according to the Parks Department.
Green roofs, cooling roofs and cooling pavements can also help cities relieve some of the heat, Climate Central’s analysis said.
To address short-term solutions like unequal access to air conditioning, the City Council aims to target home cooling support programs and cooling center locations in the most affected areas.
EQUALITY. The World Economic Forum recently reported that, at the current rate of progress, it will take more than 160 years before men and women are represented equal at the highest levels of government.
It’ll take almost 170 years before we see parity in the workforce, in wages earned, in opportunities for career advancement.
And we know those gaps are wider and progress even slower for women of color, for indigenous women, for women with disabilities.
CEBU APEC MEET. U.S. Senior Official for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Matt Murray is currently in Cebu, Philippines (he’ll be there from July 26-30) to participate in the third APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting of the year and stakeholder engagements.
The ABAC meetings in Cebu focus on APEC’s private sector priorities, with a particular emphasis on economic integration, sustainable growth, and digital innovation, among other topics.
The ABAC priorities are well-aligned with the U.S. APEC host year goals emphasizing the importance of stakeholder engagement and public-private collaboration to foster a resilient and sustainable future for all.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)