How cities are/will be impacted by climate change

Increased temperatures in U.S. cities due to climate change
Photograph: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

**updated June 2021**

News: City life has changed and will change even more due to the impacts of climate change. Cities in the United States may face greater challenges than cities elsewhere due to complacency, denial, inadequate infrastructure, and other reasons. Yet, some U.S. cities are taking strong actions–despite the current U.S. Government Executive Branch.

The climate changes that may have the greatest impact are higher temperatures/greater heat: Phoenix, Arizona may be on average 12.4 degrees F warmer by 2080. The climate of Phoenix may, by then, be more like the current climate of Esperanza, Mexico. The climate of Chicago may become more like the current climate of Lansing, Kansas. New York’s climate may become more like Jonesboro, Arkansas today.

“Maybe in 50 or 60 years, living in some cities will be unbearable.” On average, cities in the U.S. may be 8.2 degrees F warmer by 2080 with climates similar to that in cities today some hundreds of miles to their south.

Greater heat may also bring other challenges:

  • more heavy downpours leading to increased urban flooding
  • increases in deaths
  • power outages–due to excess demand for electricity
  • infrastructure failures–melting asphalt, expanding rail tracks, bridge and road damage due to heat and flooding, water treatment issues, and much more
  • economic losses–“heavy downpours are increasing nationally, especially over the last three to five decades … increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme precipitation events are projected for all U.S. regions.” Frequent urban flooding can result in claims and losses that total in the hundreds of millions of dollars if not more.

Learn more and learn more about how some U.S. cities are responding to climate change challenges: Death, blackouts, melting asphalt: Ways the climate crisis will change how we live (Pam Radtke Russell, The Guardian, 20 August 2019).

For more information, search the Science Primary Literature database.

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