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Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 842; doi:10.3390/su8090842

Urban Heat Stress Vulnerability in the U.S. Southwest: The Role of Sociotechnical Systems

1
Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
2
Civil, Environmental, and Sustainable Engineering, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA
3
Center for Public Health and Disasters, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA
4
David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Patricia Romero-Lankao, Olga Wilhelmi and Mary Hayden
Received: 18 May 2016 / Revised: 6 August 2016 / Accepted: 17 August 2016 / Published: 25 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [222 KB, uploaded 29 August 2016]

Abstract

Heat vulnerability of urban populations is becoming a major issue of concern with climate change, particularly in the cities of the Southwest United States. In this article we discuss the importance of understanding coupled social and technical systems, how they constitute one another, and how they form the conditions and circumstances in which people experience heat. We discuss the particular situation of Los Angeles and Maricopa Counties, their urban form and the electric grid. We show how vulnerable populations are created by virtue of the age and construction of buildings, the morphology of roads and distribution of buildings on the landscape. Further, the regulatory infrastructure of electricity generation and distribution also contributes to creating differential vulnerability. We contribute to a better understanding of the importance of sociotechnical systems. Social infrastructure includes codes, conventions, rules and regulations; technical systems are the hard systems of pipes, wires, buildings, roads, and power plants. These interact to create lock-in that is an obstacle to addressing issues such as urban heat stress in a novel and equitable manner. View Full-Text
Keywords: urban heat; vulnerability; socio-technical systems urban heat; vulnerability; socio-technical systems
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Pincetl, S.; Chester, M.; Eisenman, D. Urban Heat Stress Vulnerability in the U.S. Southwest: The Role of Sociotechnical Systems. Sustainability 2016, 8, 842.

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