As Urban Areas Feel the Heat, It’s Time for National Cool Communities Standards – Next City

By V. Kelly Turner

Over the past 30 years, guess what kind of weather disaster has killed more Americans than any other? It’s not hurricanes or tornadoes. It’s not flooding or lightning. It’s heat. And like many other environmental dangers, it disproportionately kills people of color.

As our climate continues to change and heat waves become more frequent, more severe, and longer-lasting, extreme heat events will only become more dangerous. That’s especially true in urban areas, where over 80% of Americans live. The urban heat island effect makes cities warmer than rural areas. The average temperature in a city with over one million people can be as much as 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the surrounding countryside. On a calm, clear night, the difference can be as much as 22 degrees.

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