It’s hard to stay cool these days, literally as we head into the “dog days” of summer, and also when reading the overheated rhetoric coming from our politicians. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, it’s clearly time for cooler heads to prevail.
We will need everyone to work together to confront one of the biggest issues we face as a nation and as a planet: climate change. This global phenomenon has already impacted us locally with the now-continuous threat of drought and wildfires and will only get worse if we don’t make energy conservation a priority.
As someone passionate about our planet, I was gratified to see that the recent report discussed below from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows not just the worst-case scenario of what lies ahead for our quickly warming planet, but how conservation and the wise use of our resources can counteract this worrisome trend.
How Hot Will Your City Be in 50 Years?
The name pretty much says it all: “Killer Heat in the United States: The Future of Dangerously Hot Days.”
This eye-opening report from the Union of Concerned Scientists spells out in great detail what lies ahead if we don’t deviate from our current carbon-producing path.
In California, that means our historic average of 40 days per year above 90 degrees (the worker safety threshold) would increase to 68 days per year by midcentury and 92 by century’s end. Days above 105 degrees would go from three days per year on average to 13 at midcentury and 25 by century’s end. A nationwide county-by-county breakdown is also available.
In cities, these temperatures may actually go significantly above the expected amounts because the higher density and lower tree canopy can trap heat for longer than in surrounding areas. This effect, known as the “urban heat island”, is not accounted for in the report.
Obviously, these higher temperatures will put a bigger drain on our natural resources and dramatically increase utility bills. Plus, as the report’s lead author Rachel Cleetus told Bloomberg News, “We can’t simply air condition our way out of this problem. We have to bring a wide suite of tools. We have to be thinking about smart climate design of buildings and communities.”
This means everything from pouring cooler pavement to greening our rooftops, but it doesn’t stop there. As a nation, we will need to make more comprehensive changes: moving to low-carbon energy sources, increasing energy efficiency, and improving land-use practices to store more carbon in soil and vegetation instead of releasing it into the atmosphere.
“To give ourselves the best chance of keeping global average warming below 3.6°F (2°C), in line with the goals of the Paris climate agreement, the United States must invest in these and other bold solutions alongside robust global action, to get to net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by midcentury,” according to the report.