Read the full post from the Nature Conservancy.
If you want evidence of climate change’s devastating effects, just look at the news over the last few weeks. Phoenix, Arizona got so hot planes couldn’t land. Iran set a new record temperature of 54°C. Perhaps most frightening, a devastating heatwave continues to grip much of Europe, killing at least five people so far and causing droughts, wildfires and transit shutdowns—Italians have dubbed the weather event “Lucifer.”
One can argue there’s nothing new or remarkable about summer heatwaves, of course. But what isnew and remarkable is their frequency and intensity, and they’ll likely get worse if we don’t take steps to curb climate change. Cities will be particularly hard hit, as the urban heat island effect—caused by sparse vegetation and heat-absorbing surfaces like asphalt—can result in temperatures as much as 12°C higher than in less-developed areas nearby. While the heat island effect will remain consistent as the climate changes, the additive challenges of higher temperatures and paved cities will make many neighborhoods less livable.
And for certain neighborhoods within cities, the situation is even worse. The urban heat islands are most prevalent in lower income neighborhoods, where residents are also less likely to have air conditioning or easy access to public cooling centers. In our fast-heating cities, climate change is threatening those who are already most vulnerable.