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Climate crisis and heat waves: Extreme heat can be extremely expensive


Heat waves are becoming more common. Using the example of the US city of Phoenix, a nature conservation organization has calculated how high the resulting costs will be. And showed what municipalities can do against the temperatures.

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In Phoenix, Arizona, it can get so hot that pedestrians wear umbrellas to protect themselves from the sun.

The temperature displayed on the board of 122 degrees Fahrenheit is equivalent to 50 degrees Celsius.

Photo: Ralph Freso / Getty Images

Extreme heat puts a strain on nature, animals, plants, people - and it puts a strain on the financial budget of a city or community.

This is the conclusion of a study by the nature conservation organization The Nature Conservancy and the infrastructure consultancy AECOM.

The costs of rising temperatures were examined using the example of the city of Phoenix in the US state of Arizona.

The authors of the study looked at four areas: human health, labor productivity, electricity and the road network.

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Phoenix - the fifth largest city in the United States with a population of 1.6 million - has always been very warm.

But: Due to climate change, it has become even hotter.

At the beginning of September the temperatures had risen to just under 44 degrees Celsius.

In the summer of this year, values ​​of 48 degrees had been measured.

According to the study, extreme heat costs people in the greater Phoenix area $ 7.3 million each year - just for emergency rooms and hospital stays caused by heat-related illnesses.

Overall, health costs would be more than $ 900 million a year, depending on the emissions scenario.

The heat also costs lives

In addition, the heat exposure has a socio-economic component: People in low-income communities are most exposed to the heat.

The Maricopa district of the Phoenix metropolitan area recorded approximately 323 heat-related deaths in 2020.

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Because many jobs can be done less well in extreme heat, labor productivity falls - with damage of at least $ 900 million.

The maintenance of the streets in the metropolitan region represents another cost item: Because the high temperatures dent, furrow and crack the streets and highways, the traffic authorities have to pay several million dollars for repairs every year.

The increased energy demand associated with extreme heat costs around $ 115 million a year.

There are solutions

You can't prevent it from getting hot.

But: The study shows ways in which the city can arm itself against the heat.

If trees were planted in Phoenix to provide shade in a quarter of the city and all buildings were covered with roofs that do not absorb heat, that would not only bring relief for the city's residents.

But also: a reduction in heating costs by billions of dollars over the next three decades.

vki / AP

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2021-12-07

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