ABC News recently reported that large cities actually create their own weather. Society has, over a couple of centuries, built giant heat sinks that are turning on us, and it wasn't until now that we could prove it.

Just 6 days after the story aired, an inventor from Taiwan received a patent for incorporating living plants into concrete structures that would help keep cities cool. Chun Pu Chen of Yung-Ho City, Taipei Hsien, Taiwan, received a U.S. patent for his cast-in-place "Planting Apparatus and Method for Green Plants on Reinforced Concrete Structures."

Among his reasons for inventing the apparatus, Chen wants it to "improve the actual quality of the environment, lower the reflection of radiation, reduce harmful rays, reduce pollution of air and noise, raise visual pleasure with less space and at the lowest cost, receive the most greening reaction, and leave a prosperous land for our next generations by maintaining its good health.

"This invention and technique combine the reinforced concrete structure with greenery under the condition that no adverse effect occurs on the original functions and appearance of the reinforced concrete structure. It also increases the strength of a reinforced concrete structure so that the green plant can find a space inside the structure to grow and to green the structure."

The vertical, cylindrical plastic planting area is filled with soil that sits on a high-density sponge. A groove on the internal wall of the cylinder acts as a capillary, drawing water from the sponge, refreshing the root zone with water and nutrients.

Each planting area is mounted on an inverted T-shaped base equipped with a water-level adjustment tube. A second tube allows air to enter for aeration of the water and soil.

Two serpentine tubes with funnel ends are the device's means of collecting water from rain or watering. These, coupled with the water-level adjustment tube, conduct the water to the T-shaped base cylinder.