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How One City Is Using Plant Walls To Curb Rising Temperatures

By Maria Cook

Spain's capital city of Madrid is known for offering historic buildings, impressive museums, and exquisite regional cuisine. But, due to a combination of geography and a phenomenon known as "heat island effect," Madrid is also one of the hottest, driest cities in the world. As global temperatures continue to rise, officials in Madrid have become increasingly concerned. As Juan Azcarate, a Madrid official in charge of efforts to fight climate change, told NPR, "We are a city where the main risks [of climate change] will be related to heat and the scarcity of water resources."  

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), heat island effect occurs when heat-absorbent materials like asphalt and concrete--commonly found in urban areas--trap heat within the city. This can cause cities like Madrid to be several degrees hotter than surrounding, non-urban areas. This is especially troubling considering that, according to NPR, scientists predict that by 2050, Madrid will have 20 percent less rainfall and 20 percent more unusually hot days.

But Madrid is busy creating solutions to their temperature problem. And almost all of those solutions have one ingredient in common: plants. From city-wide tree plantings to rooftop gardens, Madrid is literally going green in order to stay cool.