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Photo: James Saunders

Many people falsely assume that LA is a desert. It’s not. Actually, we are one of the few places on Earth that enjoy a Mediterranean climate. That’s one of the reasons we all love living here. Mediterranean climates enjoy mild winters and warm summers. But you may have noticed that summer feels extra hot lately!

Well, with the ever increasing threat of climate change, extreme heat is in our future. Plus, we’re in our fifth year of drought. Even with increased rainfall over the winter, we’re still facing unprecedented times. Our trees in local forests and cities are dying at alarming rates. We’re all at risk of heat-related illness and death, with minorities and low-income communities being disproportionately impacted.

If we do nothing, it will get worse.

But, there is hope. If we take action now, we can mitigate climate change impacts and save lives. Here are 5 easy ways YOU can beat the heat in LA and other cities, and make a difference in our climate future.

1) Save That Drop

Like many Angelenos, you’re probably already conserving water. That’s great! But how low can you go? Challenge yourself. Can your household get down to 40 gallons per person per day? For even more inspiration, check out more ways to save indoors and in your landscapes.

2) Water Your Trees

Planting new trees will provide plenty of benefits in the years to come! That being said, we also need to care for the trees we already have. Trees cool our city, protect our local water sources, and keep the air clean! An investment in our existing trees is an investment in our children’s futures.

Trees are not decorations. They are an essential part to life on this planet! Planting trees and native, climate-appropriate plants will keep LA fresh and vibrant well into the future.

3) Plant and Care for Trees

Be a hero in your community! You can make a difference, right on your street. Where is there opportunity for improvement? Are there schools, parks, medians or businesses that could use more trees? Make it happen! Our Community Tree Care Teams and Citizen Forestry programs can give you all the tools you need to green your community.

4) Make Smart Landscaping Decisions

Solutions like concrete, artificial turf and gravel actually make extreme heat worse. When we cover yards with asphalt, plastic and rocks, we may save a drop or two in the short term, but we are doing it at a significant cost– extreme heat and reduced biodiversity! Plus, when rain hits a hardscape, it pollutes our beaches and rivers, worsening our water quality.

Instead, use mulch and plant native trees and climate-appropriate plants that take in rainwater and infiltrate water back into our local aquifers.

5) Spread the Word

We can make LA climate-resilient, but we need everyone to take action! Tell your friends. Plan a tree-care event in your neighborhood. Hold a rain barrel distribution in your community. Blow up your social media with drought facts and things people can do to help. There is plenty of possibility, but it all starts with YOU.

This summer, let heat be your call to action!

Want to learn more? Visit our website to learn valuable tips and gain resources to make your city climate-resilient.

This article originally appeared on TreePeople.

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