RALEIGH – The Triangle is getting ready for another day of unseasonably warm weather — a day after parts of Raleigh hit a record-breaking 100 degrees in October. A climate change expert has warned there could be many more days like this on the horizon for the Oak City, and the impact could be dire.
“We have a lot of construction going on in Raleigh. A day like today should be a great construction day. It’s October, right?” observed Dr. Adam Terando, a research ecologist on climate impacts at U.S. Geological Survey. “What are the consequences of that for the workers who are having to work out there in that heat?”
Dr. Terando was speaking on Thursday at Innovate Raleigh, an annual summit bringing together entrepreneurs, small business owners and economic development leaders to discuss emerging trends that will inevitably affect the city.
He told the 300-strong crowd gathered at Union Station in downtown Raleigh that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is now higher than any point in at least the last 800,000 years.
Days like today, he emphasized, could have serious consequences.
“It can really have an impact on productivity of your workforce, in terms of cutting hours that are available to work, or if you have to start [moving] shifts. Maybe work has to start at 4am now.”
Other impacts: hotter nights for growing cities, which hurt people in low-income housing or those who don’t have air conditioning, and an increase in risk for mosquito-borne illnesses.
“We’re seeing these crop up more and more as being a concern. The mosquito season is lengthening, and we’re becoming a better habitat for other mosquitos whereas before it was too cold for them. They’re starting to become more comfortable with our climate as the climate warms.”
Extreme heat might also affect residents in ways not thought of before, he added.
“You start to think about kids going out on the playground equipment, and how hot that can get in the summer as we get more frequent hot days. These are sorts of things cities might really have to thinking about.”