Extreme heat causes more deaths in the United States than all other weather-related causes combined. In a warming climate, health impacts are on the rise, especially in cities, which are warming at a faster rate than non-urban areas. Reducing urban heat exposure is an equity issue, as low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods with older buildings, low tree cover, more heat-retaining surfaces, and limited access to coping strategies such as air conditioning. In Los Angeles, the three groups expected to see the largest increases in mortality as L.A.’s climate heats up are the elderly, black Americans, and Hispanics.
LOS ANGELES URBAN COOLING COLLABORATIVE
The Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative (LAUCC) is a multi-disciplinary, national partnership of researchers and expert practitioners working with communities, nonprofit organizations, academia, and government toward the goal of understanding and implementing urban cooling strategies.
LAUCC completed a modeling study of current and projected heat in Los Angeles County to:
Identify geographic areas with the highest vulnerability to heat-related death;
Quantify at the County level, and at a more granular level, how various scenarios (or “prescriptions”) combining increases in tree cover and solar reflectance would impact heat-related mortality, temperature, humidity, and oppressive air masses that lead to more mortality;
Quantify the number of years that climate change-induced warming could be delayed as a result of implementing these prescriptions; Create a replicable framework that other cities or regions can adopt and improve upon.
We found that roughly one in four lives currently lost during heat waves could be saved, largely in low-income communities and communities of color. We also found that climate change-induced warming could be delayed approximately 25 to 60 years under business-as-usual and moderate mitigation scenarios, respectively.
City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
New York City Office of the Mayor
City of Chicago Council Aldermen
C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
City of San Fernando, California
County of Polk, Iowa
US Forest Service
Jonathan Fielding, MD, MPH, MBA, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA | UCLA Fielding School of Public Health | Former Director of Public Health and Health Officer, LA County
Southern California Association of Governments