Every property is affected by heat in different ways. Like you, I have been thinking about this from multiple perspectives. We are experiencing more extreme weather in the form of heat waves, humidity, sand storms, forest fires and floods.
Stories of crop failures and water shortages are in the news from the UK, Mexico, India, the American Midwest. Here on Medium, we have witnesses like Marjan Krebelj (Growing Food is Getting Harder and Harder in Solvenia) and Umair Haque (The Age of Extinction is Here). My local library has a 20 week hold for The Ministry for the Future, a frequently referenced science fiction novel about global warming.
Lingering in our minds, the question — How will this affect my family?
Throughout the United States, hotter temperatures are appearing everywhere, usually peaking during a thermal inversion. I have been writing about urban trees, the water cycle and ways to combat the sense of doom from climate change writers.
So it was with great interest that I clicked through an email from Heat Factor™, a new consumer facing software which claims to assess your home’s heat risk, the impact of the heat on your cooling costs and the longer-term health impact.
There is no cost. You can get you assessment by using your home address at https://riskfactor.com/ .
Heat Factor™ is a product of First Street Foundation, a non-profit which coordinates the collaboration of researchers at 45 universities, who are building quantitative models to assess multiple aspects of climate change, including Flood, Fire and the newly introduced, Heat.
Their research analyzes the increasing temperatures and dangerous heat wave events throughout the contiguous United States, with a focus on where and when heat exceeds the thresholds of the National Weather Service, Heat Factor™ models estimate local temperature risk at the property level.
Extreme Danger Days, when the National Weather Service’s Heat Index is above 125°F, is expected to impact 8 million Americans this year. According to Heat Factor™ models, in a few decades it will impact 10 times that number. Extreme Danger Days are concentrated in the middle of the country, which lacks the coastal influence that mitigates extreme temperatures.
Across the country, Dangerous Days are in the southern states. These are the days when the temperature exceeds 100°F, again, a threshold set by the National Weather Service. The top counties for Dangerous Days are in 4 states: Texas, California, Arizona, and Florida. Starr County, Texas had the highest number of days, 109, above 100°F in the country.
While this is top of mind, in my area Heat Factor™ showed temperatures and humidity, rising with the net effect being more days where, if I used an air conditioner, my electric bill would go up.
I was underwhelmed. The report shows the current heat risk status and an estimate of how it would change in 30 years. I am much more interested in how it will change in the next 2 to 3 years.
The email and website also created an expectation for more insight into heat-related health issues than was available. I expected some insight into air quality, especially particulate matter from wildfires, drying lakes and arid land. This was not included.
The impact of CO2 entering the atmosphere is delayed. About 1/3 of the impact is felt almost immediately (within a year), but a substantial amount is captured and held in the oceans, so a second-third of the impact is felt 30 years after it entered the atmosphere, with the remainder anticipated to compound the heat 50 to 100 years from now. If this is true, then the atmospheric impact of the 1990’s should be able to be modeled and incorporated into the Heat Factor™ model for information in the near future.
I am giving this website/service mixed reviews. Knowing the risk for heat, flooding and wildfire from these systems is interesting, but does not add to what you probably already know.
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