Extreme heat is one of the most pernicious consequences of human-caused climate change
, killing more people each year on average than any other weather-related event
. Climate change is also going to make record-breaking heat waves more frequent in the future — something researchers and policy experts say the Pacific Northwest is not prepared for
Seattle and Portland rank first and third
, それぞれ, among cities with the highest proportion of households without air conditioning
, によると US Census Bureau survey
の 25 major metropolitan areas
. そして, 専門家は言う, those least likely to have air conditioning are the people who will endure the worst heat — historically underserved communities of color
, the elderly
, the houseless and low-income residents living in so-called urban heat islands
“Unfortunately we’re not well-prepared, generally speaking in the Pacific Northwest, for heat,” Vivek Shandas, a professor of climate adaptation and urban policy at Portland State University, CNNに語った. “私たちの [パワー] grids are largely taxed during the wintertime for heating purposes, but in the summer, there’s a lot less capacity in the grid to be able to actually manage some of the major drains on cooling infrastructure that’s needed.”
担当者. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon
, who has been outspoken on the climate crisis
, says extreme heat is one of the region’s weak spots
“We had a preview last summer with the horrific wildfires and heat, and now it’s coming with a vengeance as we look at three days potentially over 106 度 [[object Window]],” Blumenauer told CNN. “Heat at this level is something that will kill people and will get lethal very quickly.”
When a wicked winter storm and days of bitter cold pushed the Texas power grid to its breaking point
, experts warned that other states and grid operators should also prepare for atypical weather that could become more common in a changing climate
同様に, the Pacific Northwest now needs to adapt to heat, 専門家は言う. This weekend is likely just a curtain-raiser for what’s to come as climate change makes these events — which used to be outliers — worse and more frequent.
Black and brown neighborhoods will disproportionately suffer the most from the warming trend
, compared to their White counterparts
, による A 2019 調査
, on which Shandas was a coauthor
, which examined the history of segregation and disinvestment in communities of color
Low-income residents and communities of color tend to be in areas that lack tree cover, green spaces and access to cooling centers. Many work blue-collar jobs, where they are exposed to heat for long hours, to pay rent for apartments that don’t have proper cooling systems, Shandas said. And some of these vulnerable communities also tend to live in multi-generational homes or apartments, where crowding makes the heat feel even worse.
Air-conditioning in the West and Northwest is less common than anywhere else in the United States
, according to survey results from the US Census Bureau
, and can be unaffordable for low-income residents
. 約 56% of Seattle-area homes
, 例えば, do not have air-conditioning units
Shandas, who lives in Portland, said he only just bought an air conditioning unit for his family last week.
“We don’t have a history of having long stretches of heat days,” 彼は言った. “And whether people are recognizing that they’re actually experiencing some level of heat stress, it might be an unfamiliar experience for them.”
ザ・ urban heat island effect compounds these issues
. Areas with a lot of asphalt
, buildings and freeways tend to absorb a significant amount of the sun’s energy and emit it as heat
. Areas with green space — parks
, tree-lined streets — absorb and emit less
彼の中で 2019 調査, Shandas found that the hottest areas within city limits were low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color, places that historically have enjoyed the least improvement and investment. These are neighborhoods slotted next to traffic-choked freeways, where you can walk blocks without seeing trees, let alone a park.
その間, more affluent neighborhoods, which have more green spaces, are cooler.
“We’re seeing this intra-urban variation, where one street has a 15- or 20-degree difference from streets that are just less than a mile away,” Shandas said.
That kind of temperature differential could put some neighborhoods in a deadly situation
, especially for a region that emergency managers say is not acclimated to extreme heat
. Since the mid-1970s
, Seattle had an average of three or four heat-related deaths each summer
. During a sweltering summer in
1992, the number jumped up to
50 に 60 死亡者（数, による Seattle office of emergency management
Deepti Singh, a climate scientist at Washington State University at Vancouver, said the lack of investment in low-income areas affects their ability to cope with extreme weather events.
“Investing in resources to help these communities is real important, because they have less ability to escape to cooler areas because it’s not economically feasible for them,” Singh said.
City officials are taking steps to keep residents safe this weekend.
“It’s uncommon to have potentially three days above 100 度, but it’s certainly not our first heatwave where we’ve had to take additional action,” Dan Douthit, spokesperson for the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, CNNに語った.
Douthit said cooling centers will be open through the weekend during peak heat hours
, and if residents need transportation to get to cooling centers
, the city will provide a ride
Seattle city officials are urging residents to seek refuge in より多い 30 cooling centers it plans to open
, which include senior centers
, community centers
, and an emergency shelter as well as beaches
, プール, and spray parks
Blumenauer says that as summers get warmer
, people in the Northwest are in for a wake-up call — all the more reason
, 彼は言った, that climate resiliency plans should be included in the infrastructure package Congress passes
“We’re not ready for the strain that we’re going to see in the electrical grid,” Blumenauer said. “People’s habits are going to have to change. Those who have air-conditioners are not going to be able to crank them up all the way. It’s going to pose severe strains, which means we can look at blackouts.”
But Portland General Electric said it is ready for the high demand: “There’s no doubt we are looking at hotter, drier weather here in the Pacific Northwest than has historically been the case,” Andrea Platt, spokesperson for the utility, CNNに語った. “The big message is that PGE is prepared for this extreme heat and high electric use.”
Julie Moore, spokesperson for Seattle City Light, told CNN the utility is expecting a little over 20% more power use than what’s normal for this time of year, but the utility and the regional partners are “confident we will ride this out.”
“We do not anticipate any proactive service outages,” ムーアは言った, “but will be monitoring conditions and will respond appropriately if an unexpected concern arises that could be mitigated with a shift in operations.”
In addition to improving infrastructure, Singh said investing in education and preparedness programs in vulnerable communities is key.
“Cities are doing the important job of opening cooling centers, which can provide respite from the heat for many members of the community that might not have access to A/C’s,” Singh said. “Investing in these community resources for vulnerable populations is critical as well as educating the public how to be prepared during these types of extreme events.”
If the US fails to slash planet-heating emissions, people in cities like Portland and Seattle — which today can still be considered sanctuaries from extreme heat — would need to fundamentally change their way of life as temperatures continue to warm.
By the middle of this century
, 例えば, the number of days that hit
90 degrees in the Pacific Northwest is expected to increase from a current average of around six to
16, によると study from the Union of Concerned Scientists
Lindell-Smith, who is still in high school, said last year’s wildfires were an awakening. She joined the Seattle chapter of the Sunrise Movement, a youth climate activist group, and started working with local climate organizations in Seattle.
“The wildfires [だった] a defining moment for me, and now we have this heatwave,” said Lindell-Smith. “The climate crisis is scary, seeing what kind of world we’re going to be growing up in.”