Portland’s Urban Heat Island: Unequal Impacts

On Tuesday, April 18th, 7pm, Let’s Talk Climate will host its next forum, titled “Portland’s Urban Heat Islands: Unequal Impacts,” at TaborSpace, 5441 SE Belmont St, Portland. Heat islands reflect areas where temperatures are unusually hot over a prolonged period. As climate change warms the planet, cities are warming at a faster pace due to dark, heat- absorbing roads and roofs. Though Portland is relatively “cool” compared to other U.S. cities, it has become a significant urban heat island, showing climate effects distinct from surrounding fields and forests. 

In Portland, as in other cities, such heat impacts tend to fall disproportionately on vulnerable populations such as the elderly, the low income, and communities of color. People in these neighborhoods are less likely to have large shade trees, less likely to have air conditioning, and more likely to suffer from asthma and other air quality health problems. 

Climate equity is a key concern in the city's 2015 Climate Action Plan, with recommendations for neighborhood-level action to address climate impacts on human health. How can the City of Portland proactively address these climate inequities? This forum will feature recent research on Portland’s high heat zones and high stress neighborhoods, with suggestions for new approaches to building neighborhood resilience.

Speakers include: Dr. Vivek Shandas, Research Director, PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions; Eric Hesse, Strategic Planning Coordinator, TriMet; Jim Labbe, urban tree canopy advisor; and others to be confirmed.

This event is free and open to the public; donations gratefully accepted to help defray expenses. The forum is made possible in part through support from Oregon Environmental Council and 350PDX and through funding from the City of Portland and SE Uplift’s Neighborhood Small Grants Program. Attendees are asked to sign up at https://urban-heat-island.eventbrite.com. Carpooling recommended, limited bike and car parking available, Trimet bus 15. More info at contact@letstalkclimatepdx.org.

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