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More heat deaths, pollution, wildfires: Here's how climate change could harm Arizona, report says

By Katherine Davis-Young
Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2023 - 3:16pm

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Sun on a blue sky framed by trees
Chelsey Heath/KJZZ
Sun in the West Valley on Aug. 23, 2023.

Climate change is very likely to bring more extreme heat and worsening drought conditions to the Southwest. That in turn could cause economic and public health consequences. Those are the findings of a new climate analysis from the federal government

The massive report known as the National Climate Assessment, released Tuesday, says Arizona has already seen a dramatic increase in heat-related deaths and hospitalizations. It projects those numbers will continue to climb in the next few decades.

“This disproportionately affects the health of frontline workers, overburdened communities in the region, including unhoused, outdoor workers, migrant farmworkers, people with lower income, and older adults. So, some of the more vulnerable members of our society," said Dave White with Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, who helped author the report.

Heat exposure isn’t the only health concern for Arizonans. The report projects extreme temperatures and drought will make air pollution worse, driving increases in high ozone days, dust storms and wildfires.

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