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New study highlights high costs of extreme heat in Phoenix

Extreme heat is expensive

PHOENIX – Extreme heat is expensive.

That’s the conclusion of a study presented Monday by The Nature Conservancy, which commissioned a review of the costs of rising temperatures in Phoenix.

Together with infrastructure consultancy firm AECOM, the environmental non-profit organization known for its nature reserves and efforts to protect biodiversity has this time turned its attention to the country’s hottest large metropolitan area.

“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 implement the ambitious solution scenarios and realize the associated benefits, the public and private sectors will need to play an active role. “

David Hondula, a former Arizona State University climatologist who now heads Phoenix’s new heat response and mitigation office, said the report would be helpful for cities like his to secure funding for measures to to cool the quarters. He served on the study’s advisory committee.

Phoenix has always been scorching hot, but climate change has made it even hotter, with temperatures in early September still climbing to 111 degrees (43.8 Celsius). Temperatures reached as high as 118 degrees (48 degrees Celsius) during the summer. The city is the fifth largest in the country, with 1.6 million inhabitants.

Those most vulnerable to heat are often found in poor and racially diverse communities where many households cannot afford the heat waves that are becoming more frequent, widespread and severe. Maricopa County in Phoenix recorded 323 heat-related deaths in 2020,

The extreme heat is already costing residents of the Phoenix metro area $ 7.3 million per year in emergency room visits and hospitalizations for 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 warp, shape and crack from high temperatures.

The study concluded that planting enough trees to provide a canopy for a quarter of the desert city and covering all buildings in the area with “cool roofs” made of materials that do not absorb heat could help the city. city ​​to save billions of dollars over the next three decades. .

He said installing cool roofs on just one-third of structures in the Phoenix metro area could help save up to $ 280 million per year in avoidable losses due to declining labor productivity, the needs energy consumption and heat-related illness and death.

ABC News

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