One of Phoenix’s best features, its heat, is also one of the most dangerous aspects of living there. “When people read about climate change, they probably think mostly in terms of coastal cities,” said Mayor Greg Stanton. “But the truth is that it’s hitting us here in the desert Southwest…. We were hitting 100 degrees in Phoenix, Ariz., all the way to almost Halloween [last] year.”
In response, the city’s residents have undertaken a simple approach at improving heat resiliency and fighting climate change at the same time: planting trees. Trees not only capture carbon, their shade can drop temperatures by as much as 15 degrees. They also help community members connect with each other. “A neighborhood without shade trees is less connected or a place you can call a true neighborhood,” said Cole Van Norman, a volunteer in the effort, which is being led by by Cities of Service, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the AmeriCorps VISTA program.