Did you know parks can save lives?
Updated: Sep 10
Calvin Pang (Beckman High School)
How green spaces prevent premature deaths
Before continuing, ask yourself this question: where is the nearest green space? If the answer is less than 300 meters, then the chances of a premature death occurring is lower than if farther than 300 meters, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). On top of that, these green spaces are recommended to be at least 3.7 acres to be effective.
Not only do green spaces support positive mood and cognition, lower anxiety, higher creativity, mindfulness and social connectedness, but also prevents heart disease and premature deaths of babies. These benefits are not only achievable with green spaces, but also blue spaces such as the sea, rivers, lakes, canals, waterfalls, and even fountains. A study shows that children that attend greener schools with more trees and natural play areas have been shown to have better brain development and exam results. However, their psychological welfare isn’t the only thing threatened.
According to The Conversation, “43,000 premature deaths could be prevented annually in more than 1,000 European cities…” The American Heart Association presented a study showing that green spaces and better air quality were associated with a reduction in the number of deaths from heart disease. The increased amount of nature cleanses the air of carbon dioxide which allows for better air quality. Even urban planners strive to make it possible to see at least 3 trees from their home and have 30% of tree-canopy cover in the neighborhood.
In the city of Irvine, there are a whopping total of 63 parks, significantly high compared to the 15 parks in Tustin. Santa Ana also has lots of green spaces with 47 parks. However, though comparatively large, approximately only 1.41% of Irvine houses are within the WHO recommended distance to a green space, resulting in many potentially preventable deaths, some even premature. This incredibly low percentage of households within 300 meters of a green space further emphasizes the lack of parks in Tustin and Santa Ana. Also, it can be chalked up to the income differences between the cities.
As a result, the general health of our communities are declining, and will continue to if nothing is being done. We need green and blue spaces in order to combat the growing issue of global warming, not only for us in the present, but also in order to ensure a bright future for the next generations to come. Additionally, by lessening the economic deficit between cities, it can improve health in underdeveloped cities.