What a strange, strange summer! Several record-breaking heat waves followed by a downright chilly Fourth of July. Strange. Out west, roads are buckling and berries are literally cooking while still on the bush. Drought, health warnings, wildfires, crops dying. Climate change is no longer a looming threat. It’s here.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

According to Climate Central, “By 2050, the typical number of heat wave days in Maine is projected to quadruple from 10 to nearly 40 days a year.” By my rough calculations, we are already at or over 10 so far this summer.

Amongst all the gloom and doom though, there are also some really cool and creative innovations happening as well. Greenland is opting out of drilling for oil, solar panels are becoming easier to integrate into our everyday lives and green spaces are springing up in some unlikely areas.

One prime example is the Dutch city of Utrecht, which has transformed the roofs of 316 bus stops into miniature green spaces. As explained in BrightVibes, “The roofs are covered with sedum flowers and other plants, which act as an oasis for bees.” Plus, the plants will also help absorb rainwater, capture dust or pollutants from the air and regulate temperatures. Additional side effects include reduction in noise pollution, increased air quality and stress reduction. They’re pretty, to boot.

Granted, this is perhaps not the most relevant idea for us. Other than some small clusters within our relatively few cities, Maine doesn’t have a ton of bus stops. However, we do have plenty of parking lots and driveways. Sure, not as many as in an urban area, but enough. Cue the green lot.

A green lot is a driveway or parking lot that uses grass instead of asphalt or concrete. I know, it sounds wacky and rife for muddy potholes and disaster, but it is more than just good, old-fashioned grass on dirt.

Green lots are carefully planned, skillfully engineered areas. Dirt or gravel is laid over a honeycombed grid made from rigid plastic or metal with sod and grass on top. Voilà! The result is a reinforced section of ground that offers the users nearly the same surface stability as a paved lot.

In fact, according to one manufacturer, Truegrid, the pavers have an incredibly high compression strength when filled. This allows green lots to be driven on by vehicles, including large trucks, without damaging the grass or deforming the soil.

“A grass paver system can provide a durable surface that is nearly as strong as concrete or asphalt surfaces, while being much more attractive – especially in rural or suburban areas,” information provided by Truegrid said.

However, beyond being structurally sound, green lots come with the added benefits of being water permeable, able to store and conserve stormwater, eliminating harmful runoff. And while there is an installation process, it doesn’t require the same initial materials as concrete or asphalt. In addition, green lots absorb and utilize sunlight, instead of simply reflecting back the heat. In this way, they circumnavigate the dreaded “heat islands” of urban lots and make a genuine stride towards tipping our planet back to healthy.

I applaud all those turning their creative minds to finding solutions to the climate crisis and exploring ways to beautify and enrich our world. Thank you.

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