Cooling Cities By Throwing Shade

Trees provide much-needed shade for urban Americans on a hot day, but not everyone gets to enjoy it. New research illuminates how decades of U.S. housing policy created cities where prosperous, white neighborhoods are more likely to be lush, and low-income communities of color have little respite from the sun. National Geographic writer Alejandra Borunda explains how activists are trying to make Los Angeles greener and healthier for everyone, and why the solution isn’t just to plant more trees. For more information on this episode, visit Want more? Research shows how racist housing practices created oppressively hot neighborhoods. The video series Nat Geo Explores breaks down redlining and the lasting environmental impact of a series of 1930s maps. Black and brown communities bear the brunt of environmental degradation, pollution, and extreme weather fueled by climate change. After decades of activism, the environmental justice movement sees an opening to fix long-standing wrongs. Also explore: Why does shade matter? The urban heat island effect means cities are noticeably warmer than nearby rural areas. Even as the climate crisis will make urban heat more intense, parks and trees could help cities stay cool. An interactive map from the University of Richmond shows the discrimination baked into Great Depression-era federal housing policy. For paid subscribers: A National Geographic cover story explores Los Angeles as the city confronts its shady divide. Plus, driving down one L.A. street illustrates the legacy of decades of discrimination. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to to subscribe today.

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