Extreme heat struck across the Southwest U.S. this week, sending temperatures in Phoenix soaring to near 120°F and grounding airplanes that were unable to operate in such warm weather.
Heat waves are nothing new, but they have increased in frequency and severity in recent decades as a result of climate change. And each extreme heat event reveals another way our society simply isn’t built for such high temperatures, from our transport systems to the agriculture industry.
“We’ve built entire infrastructures with particular temperatures in mind,” says Matthew T. Huber, an associate professor of geography at Syracuse University. “When temperatures get really high, we don’t have the material capacity to deal with that.”
Still, humans continue to relocate to warm places like the Southwest, drawn by the temperate climate. In the coming decades, many climate researchers expect that pattern to reverse, as those…
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