Wicked problem essay

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In this essay, the Urban Heat Island effect will be viewed especially in the con text of Phoenix, Arizona. As a phenomenon, urban heat island refers to a situation in which a specific urban area records temperatures that are considerably higher than those of the surrounding rural areas.  This differential temperature recording comes about as a result of human activities and may include but is not limited to settlement of populations, deforestation and establishment of industries in such urban areas. In the case of Phoenix, Arizona, the Phoenix Metropolitan Area will form the basis of this concern which will be focused on the sustainability problems caused by and causing the phenomenon of urban heat island.

Sustainability Problems

Without doubt, the urban heat island phenomenon in the Phoenix Metropolitan area of Arizona has caused certain sustainability problems. In the observation of Hedquist, Di Sabatino, Fernando, Leo & Brazel (2009, p. 1) previous research in the greater Phoenix Metropolitan area has shown that the urban heat island magnitude can be as high as 11ºC necessitating corrective actions through policy creation.  Because of the high temperatures in the metropolitan area, issues such as air condition and heat exhaustion have come to the fore, especially during the summer months, demanding address and remedial measures through policy creation and implementation. Hedquist, Di Sabatino, Fernando, Leo & Brazel (2009), in furtherance of this position, note that in recent years the overall increases in the minimum and night time temperatures in Metropolitan Phoenix (which is a heavily built environment) has prompted the creation of policies to mitigate heat within the city and its surrounding areas.

Greenhouse gas emissions have increased in the greater Phoenix metropolis as a result of the UHI effect, posing even more challenges to the city in dealing with global warming and climate change. The presence of the urban heat island issue within the Phoenix area poses great problems to the sustainability of the quality of water supplied in the area, as Phelan et al. (2015, p. 291) succinctly point out. With the rise in temperatures in the greater Phoenix area, there is also an urgent need to manage the heat problem in the area and to provide the residents of the metropolis cooler environments. For one, there is the need to build more recreational parks, plant more trees and provide more shades for residents. Similarly, there will be the need to design buildings, both residential and commercial, in a manner that is energy efficient to help deal with the effects of the UHI phenomenon.

Conclusion

From the myriad of effects arising from the urban heat island phenomenon in the greater Phoenix metropolis, it is clear that the problem is important and worth the attention paid to it. There is need to focus on the issue as it is likely to crop up not just in the US but elsewhere in the world as cities become larger and have more people, hold more buildings and have remarkably less vegetation. It is likely that the costs of energy, especially air conditioning will rise considerably as global warming spreads and the phenomenon of urban heat islands becomes ever so pronounced.

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  1. Hedquist, B.C., Di Sabatino, S., Fernando, H.J.S., Leo, L.S., and Brazel, A.J. (2009). Results from the Phoenix Arizona Urban Heat Island Experiment. The Seventh International Conference on Urban Climate, 29 June – 3 July 2009, Yokohama, Japan.
  2. Phelan, P.E., Kaloush, K., Miner, M., Golden, J., Phelan, B., Silva III, H., & Taylor, R. A. (2015). Urban Heat Island: Mechanisms, Implications, and Possible Remedies. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 40, 285 – 307.
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