By Nina Lakhani, Photo: Caitlin O'Hara/The Guardian, The Guardian, August 2, 2022
Phoenix is America’s hottest city, and it’s getting hotter. The global climate crisis and decades of sprawling urban growth has turned this desert city into a hazardous heat island with dwindling water supplies and inadequate shade.
An assortment of programs to cool down Phoenix and help people survive the heat have not been working: in Maricopa county, which includes Phoenix, record high temperatures contributed to at least 662 deaths between 2020 and 2021, while thousands more people needed emergency medical treatment.
That’s where the city’s new Office of Heat Response and Mitigation comes in. The pioneering heat team was created last September amid pressure from activists, researchers, faith groups and health experts for a dedicated team responsible – and accountable – for making Phoenix more livable.