Friday, January 21, 2022

New study reveals high cost of extreme heat in Phoenix

PHOENIX (AP) – The intense heat is expensive.

That is the conclusion of a study presented Monday by The Nature Conservancy, which was tasked with examining the cost of rising temperatures in Phoenix.

Working with infrastructure consultancy AECOM, a nonprofit environmental organization known for its conservation areas and efforts to protect biodiversity, this time turned its attention to the country’s hottest major metropolis.

“As Phoenix continues to urbanize and its population increases, the benefits of adapting to extreme heat can only increase, as can the consequences of inaction,” the report said. “To realize ambitious solution scenarios and realize the associated benefits, both the public and private sectors will need to play an active role.”

David Hondula, a climate scientist formerly at Arizona State University who is now heading Phoenix’s new heat response and mitigation division, said the report would be useful for cities like him in securing funding for cooling neighborhoods. He served on the research advisory committee.

Phoenix has always been hot, but climate change has made it even hotter, with temperatures still rising to 111 degrees (43.8 C) in early September. In summer, temperatures reached 118 degrees (48 Celsius). The city is the fifth largest in the country, with a population of 1.6 million.

The people most vulnerable to heat often live in poor and racially diverse communities, where many households do not have the means to cope with the heat waves that are becoming more frequent, widespread and severe. There are 323 heat-related deaths in Phoenix’s Maricopa County in 2020,

The Nature Conservancy study looked at the costs that sustained temperature rises can bring to human health, productivity, electricity, and roads.

The intense heat is already costing people on the Phoenix metro $ 7.3 million annually in emergency room visits and hospitalizations due to heat-related illnesses, according to the study. Maintaining roads in the metro area costs transportation agencies more than $ 100 million a year as streets and highways buckle, buckle and crack from the high temperatures.

The study concluded that planting enough trees to provide shelter for a quarter of a desert city and covering all buildings in the area with cool roofs of non-heat absorbing materials could help the city save billions of dollars over the next three decades. …

It says installing cool roofs on just a third of the facilities in the Phoenix metro area could help save up to $ 280 million annually in avoidable losses from declining productivity, increased energy needs, and heat-related illness and death.

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