Tucson’s ‘Heat Island’ Disproportionately Affects Low-Income Households

by Vins
Published: Updated:

A heat island impacting Tucson, Arizona is uncomfortable for everyone there, but as Ellice Lueders reported for the Guardian in August 2019, “Not all Tucsonans stand equal in the face of heat.” As southern Arizona’s summers become more intense, “people who work outdoors, those on a low income and the elderly face imminent peril.”

According to 2016 Climate Central report, by 2050 Tucson  is predicted to have 135 days per year when the heat index (which combines temperature and humidity) exceeds 104°F. Describing Tucson as a “harbinger of these changes,” Lueders reported that Tucson now has “24 more days above 100°F on average per year than in the 1970s,” the second largest increase in the nation.

Regina Romero, a candidate running for mayor of Tucson, told the Guardian, “If you lay an extreme heat map over a map of low income areas, it’s the same map.” Tucson’s low-income communities suffering from what is called an urban heat island. Romero has been working on incentivizing water conservation as one way to counter the effects of Tucson’s urban heat island.

Lueders’s report details the accounts of working people in Tucson, and how the extreme heat impacts their lives.

As of September 2, 2019, there appears to have been no corporate media coverage of the heat island in Tucson, Arizona and especially its disproportionate effects on low-income communities there.

Source: Ellice Lueders, “Boiling Point: In Tucson, Not Everyone Is Equal in the Face of Heat,” Guardian, August 31, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/aug/31/tucson-heat-inequality-summer; reposted as “In Tucson, Not Everyone Is Equal in the Face of Heat,” Earth Island Journal, September 2, 2019, http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/articles/entry/tucson-not-everyone-equal-face-of-heat-climate.

Student Researcher: Jessica Herron (City College of San Francisco)

Faculty Evaluator: Jennifer Levinson (City College of San Francisco)