WASHINGTON – A new online dashboard that intends to offer state and local governments the real-time information they need to fight climate change portrays a dismal picture for Arizona’s future, calling for greater heat, more drought, and more wildfires.
As Mayor of Phoenix, Kate Gallego emphasized the significance of this somber but necessary message.
On Thursday, Gallego explained how the tool will help him choose “the most effective ways to deploy these resources.” “We are spending tens of millions of dollars on climate resilience,” he said.
The Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation webpage was inaugurated by the Biden administration, and Gallego was there along with the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, and White House representatives.
The White House hailed it as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to assist local governments in “better understanding current exposure to climate hazards to building their resilience plans.”
Within a week of entering office, on January 27, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order mandating the creation of a dashboard. On the call announcing the dashboard, White House officials said it was just one piece of the administration’s climate agenda, which also included funding in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act and the creation of a number of executive orders and task forces to address climate change.
To experts, it’s better late than never to implement the dashboard, which they believe will assist local governments in more precisely directing their climate policy.
The tool will help local authorities “get more bang for their money” by focusing aid on the areas most at risk from climate disasters, according to Maya Golden-Krasner, deputy director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The dashboard not only displays current conditions, but also provides a glimpse into the predicted weather for a certain county, Census tract, or tribal area. It offers climate estimates from the turn of the century through 2099, with two scenarios for each time period: one based on whether emission levels rise for the rest of the century, and the other indicating what would happen if emissions fall.
Extreme heat, drought, wildfires, flooding, and coastal inundation are the five types of climate risks that users can use to narrow down the estimates.
Some experts were concerned that the tool misrepresented the interconnected nature of the risks by classifying them into different categories, despite their appreciation for the dataset’s breadth.
According to Kathy Jacobs, director of the University of Arizona’s Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, “if you have a draught, you may well have a forest fire, and then you may have an air quality problem and you may damage the electric infrastructure.”
She said the tool paints an accurate image of the harm climate change can cause to the country, which she and others hope would motivate people to take action.
In the words of Jacobs, “it offers very quantitative judgments about what the future is likely to look like in a high-emissions scenario,” which should serve as inspiration.
In any case, the figures are striking on their own. For instance, the dashboard’s higher-emissions scenario predicts that between 2070 and 2099, Maricopa County, Arizona, may see an average of 122.4 days per year with temperatures exceeding 105 degrees. The National Weather Service reports that in 2021, Phoenix will have 104 days with temperatures above 100 degrees.
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The frequency of days with less than 0.01 inches of precipitation is expected to rise, which increases the risk of wildfires across the state, according to projections. By 2099, Maricopa County would have an increase to 297.7 dry days annually from the average of 285.5 seen between 1976 and 2005.
The launch occurs during a period of intense weather in Arizona. As the hot wave continues, the state is also experiencing the consequences of the worst drought in 1,200 years, which has reduced water levels in the Colorado River to record lows.
We feel the effects every day,” Gallego said of the community. “It manifests itself in drought, extreme heat waves, and flash flooding.”
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