Yesterday, the Obama Administration released the Third National Climate Assessment. This is the most comprehensive look at how human activity is changing our climate – and it’s not good news. Grist lays out 5 ways climate change is already harming us, and urban heat comes into play in two of the five points.
Urban heat kills, and it sends thousands to the emergency room during extreme heat events every year. This report tells us that not only are these events already becoming more frequent, but overall temperatures are on the rise, making them more deadly. The study also shows us that humidity is on the rise, making these extreme heat events even more unbearable – especially among vulnerable populations.
We may be sending less smog up into the air from our tailpipes, but the added heat and sunlight brought on by climate change mix with other pollutants, increasing the amount of ozone in our atmosphere. Droughts add dust and wildfires send up soot, adding to the level of pollution. The urban heat island effect makes these problems even worse for people living in our cities.
Cool roofs and reflective pavements help reduce urban heat and they save lives. And as cities add reflective surfaces to their mitigation arsenal, they’ll also save money.