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Articles by Joseph Winters

Joseph Winters is Grist’s editorial intern.

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All eyes were on Maricopa County, Arizona, earlier this month as election officials were counting every vote. But in the meantime, another group has been busy counting every tree.

Trees bring enormous benefits to the communities where they grow. For example, they scrub pollution out of the air and counter the urban heat island effect — in some cases lowering ambient air temperatures by up to 9 degrees F. Having trees nearby can potentially help homeowners save on energy bills and prevent excess mortality from heat waves.

However, these benefits are not equitably distributed among communities. Instead, racist housing policies like redlining have made trees abundant in wealthy, white neighborhoods, but scarce for poorer communities of color.

This Providence, Rhode Island, neighborhood received a low Tree Equity Score from American Forests. Eben Dente / American Forests

“A map of tree cover in virtually any city in America is also effectively a map of income and race,” said Jad Daley, president and CEO of the conservation nonprofit American Forests.

That’s why American Forests has been countin... Read more

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