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UCLA’s V. Kelly Turner discusses ways to prepare for extreme heat waves

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Globally, heat waves have been seen across regions of Europe and the United States with record-setting temperatures this summer. In a recent University of California article, V. Kelly Turner — associate professor of urban planning and geography and co-director of the Luskin Center for Innovation — discussed how these heatwaves are expected to persist, suggesting the temperature records will continue to increase over time. 

“At this point in the state of California, there are some places where just by mid-century we're expecting about a third of the year to be over 100 degrees. And that's going to be sort of the new normal,” says Turner. According to multiple studies, extreme heat affects health and well-being in both acute and chronic ways, from premature births to lower test scores, decreases in productivity and increases in violent crime, and increased risk of heatstroke among children and the elderly. The impacts disproportionately affect poor and minority communities. 

A study led by David Eisenmann — Deputy Director for Community Partnerships, Center for Healthy Climate Solutions and co-leader of Heat Resilient L.A. — found efficient methods for cooling neighborhoods down by adding trees and vegetation and using more reflective outdoor materials. In addition, it found these efforts could save up to nearly one in four lives currently lost to heat waves, and delay climate change-induced warming by approximately 40-70 years. 

Many cities including Los Angeles are currently taking steps toward tackling the issue, according to Turner. Cities and states need are recruiting heat officers to coordinate action to help the wide range of people affected by extreme heat, such as farmworkers vulnerable to heatstroke or children playing in middle schools. 

“This is a matter of giving people a quality of life,” Turner said. 

Read more about the heat crisis at the University of California.  

Image Source: University of California