26 Dec

Don’t let L.A. lose its cool

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPhotos: At LA County Jail, Archbishop José H. Gomez celebrates Christmas Mass with inmatesEven with all these precautions, I still can’t keep the house cool. The best I hope for is not too hot. And I don’t even live in Woodland Hills.If this were a heat wave, that’d be one thing. But I’ve lived most of my life in California and never experienced anything like this. A wave suggests that there’s a corresponding trough, and that’s not happening. The daytime and nighttime temperatures have remained relentlessly high for a long time.Nor is it really a heat storm, as DWP General Manager Ron Deaton calls it. Call it what you want, but this is just life in Los Angeles right now. The experts say we better get used to it because it’s also what life in Los Angeles will be like in the future — except probably worse. It’s urban warming, most likely due to rising temperatures globally exacerbated by the paving over of the world. As L.A. continues to grow and pave like crazy, things will get worse. Climatologist William Patzert told the Daily News last week that “hotter and more brutal summers are in our future.” That can’t be good for property values.So either we pack up and head to Alaska or learn to love the extreme heat. There’s a third option, but considering the lack of vision among the city’s elected officials, it seems like just a pipe dream. That is to green up the city enough that it keeps the warming trend gradual. Tree huggers and environmental engineers have thought up all sorts of ideas already, like planting gardens on top of houses, de-concretizing urban areas, adding more shade with trees and, of course, solar energy. These aren’t particularly revolutionary ideas. They’re not even technological marvels. Yet these sensibly simple solutions and others have a hard time getting any traction. Even solar panels, which should be an obvious benefit in sunny California, are still the oddity in most neighborhoods.So we can’t expect any leadership from the city’s elected officials. Their main contribution to the heat crisis was to exhort people to “flex their power.” Who even knows what that means? That the message replaced the occasionally helpful freeway travel-time display signs was even more vexing. The only significant contribution to the environment out of City Hall in recent years was to finally stop the trash from the streets from washing into storm drains and in the region’s waterways — and only after a court order.Nor is it a job for the DWP, which is so behind in power system maintenance that during the worst of the heat, workers would change a dead transformer with a more powerful one, only to have it blow almost immediately. No, this is a job for only one person: You. All of you. Angelenos who don’t want to give up the fight must do it themselves. It’s not just about setting the A/C to 78 and turning out the lights when you leave a room, though that’s certainly part of it. It’s about thinking beyond just the next energy crisis and demanding the elected officials do as well. Maybe that means a city of oddball rooftop lawns someday, but that sure would beat one of blue tarps. This weekend, as the days and nights have cooled down to what seems more normal for summer, it would be easy to forget that. But that would be foolish because this heat isn’t going away for good. It will be back. How we deal with it, both individually and collectively, will determine whether Los Angeles becomes a has-been city of burnt avenues or the coolest hot town around.Mariel Garza is a columnist and editorial writer for the Los Angeles Daily News. Write to her by e-mail at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! FORGET Mega Millions. These days I daydream about shade. Tall billowing trees. Enormous tarp contraptions. City-size umbrellas.When it’s 100-plus outside, humid like Havana and my brave air conditioner is running 24 hours for weeks on end to keep the dog from heat stroke, it’s tough to think about anything else. Well, except for my next Department of Water and Power bill. But that’s more of a nightmare.The blue tarps I used last winter to keep the torrential rains from soaking my garage now serve as makeshift sun-repellers in various key exposure spots. It’s a little Third World, but if it cools down my house even 1 degree, I don’t care.My new morning ritual includes unplugging everything that uses even the tiniest bit of energy or generates heat – phone, computer, DVD player. I truly believe that if I try very hard I can ward off a power outage. Then I close every curtain in the house. The potted plants haven’t seen midday light since June.last_img

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