On Monday, Oct. 11, citizens from Somerville and beyond will come together to de-pave two backyards and participate in a global climate work party aimed at sending world leaders a message that people around the world are ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work on fighting climate change, and they expect heads of state to do the same.
Somerville Climate Action decided to focus this event on de-paving to address the many issues connected to the impacts of climate change in Somerville. The city is 78 percent covered by impervious surfaces. Flooding is exacerbated by impervious surfaces such as asphalt and concrete. Heat waves are worsened as these materials retain heat and radiate it back, increasing ambient air temperatures. Air quality is worsened by extreme heat when sunlight reacts with car exhaust and emissions from coal plants coming from the Midwest to create ground-level ozone, a powerful lung irritant. All of these problems are expected to intensify as climate change worsens.
“Somerville is vulnerable to climate change as storms dump more water and increase flooding, as summer heat waves increase in intensity and frequency, and as air quality worsens on hot days,” said Vanessa Rule, coordinator of Somerville Climate Action. “We saw this happening this spring and summer. Taking up concrete and asphalt and creating new green spaces allow for more water to be absorbed into the ground instead of going into basements and streets, it keeps the environment cooler and it cleans the air. It can save our city, residents and businesses the cost of repairing damaged infrastructure and air-conditioning energy bills, and will make the city healthier to live in.”
Somerville has some of the highest rates of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases in the commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition, new green areas can serve to grow and provide fresh and local food that is affordable as global food prices rise because of climate change.
The de-pavings will take place in the backyards of two private residences. Somerville Climate Action hopes that this will be the first of many “de-paving events.” More than 30 volunteers from Somerville Climate Action, Groundwork Somerville, Mystic River Watershed Association, Students for a Just and Stable Future, and citizens-at-large are expected to attend. Aldermen Gewirtz and Heuston will also be attending.
This event is being co-sponsored by Groundwork Somerville and the Mystic River Watershed Associations.