Scientists agree that we are in the throes of a massive climate change event that has resulted in a major overall rise in the world's temperature. As Climate Central notes, this rise in temperature is "increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, damaging public health, stressing food and water supplies, shifting seasons and ecosystems, boosting sea levels, damaging infrastructure and local economies, and threatening ways of life."
It is important to address this issue, and part of doing that is knowing which places are most affected. With that in mind, here are the six fastest-warming American cities, including Climate Central's stats on just how much hotter each has gotten since 1970.
Temperature Change since 1970: +4.11°
When Chattanooga was first established, it was a river port city helping support commerce in the region. It was also the site of numerous iron and steel mills that led to a pretty serious pollution problem by the 1960s. Residents since cleaned up their act a lot, but it's still possible that this had an effect on just how hot the city is today. A change of this magnitude could have various negative implications for Tennessee's economy and public health. For instance, Tennessee's Department of Health warns that climate change could cause problems for people with respiratory issues such as asthma and allergies and could also increase the number of heat-related deaths in Chattanooga and all over the state.
Temperature Change since 1970: +4.13°
Burlington is an absolutely gorgeous city, especially in the autumn. It is right near Lake Champlain, nestled between the Adirondack Mountains and the Green Mountains. Unfortunately, Burlington is also a city that is warming at an unprecedented rate. Higher temperatures mean that summer lasts longer, which could encroach on both the fall and winter tourist seasons that the local economy relies upon. On top of that, more rainfall during the wetter seasons has made costly (and dangerous) floods more of a regular occurrence in Burlington and elsewhere in Vermont.
Temperature Change since 1970: +4.35°
Phoenix has a reputation for being hot, so the prospect of it getting even hotter is insane. It is one of many Arizona cities located in the Salt River Valley, sometimes referred to as the "Valley of the Sun." This is an apt name considering just how intensely the sun beats down on the city, all the more so as temperatures there continue to rise. Phoenix already gets a whopping 92 days a year where the temperature goes over 100°F, so it getting any hotter presents the very real possibility that the city will eventually become uninhabitable. The saddest part is that this could lead to more deaths since Phoenix's heat already claims numerous lives each year — there were tragically 130 heat-related deaths in Phoenix in 2016 alone.
Temperature Change since 1970: +4.48°
Tucson lies on the edge of the plains of the Sonoran Desert, an extremely arid region that extends down into California as well as Baja California Sur in Mexico. It is an area rich with diverse desert flora and fauna, but climate change threatens the rainy seasons on which this fragile desert ecosystem relies. Decreased rain could lead to drought in the Sonoran Desert, meaning that not only humans but also wildlife will suffer its consequences. For instance, the American population of a beautiful mammal called the Sonoran pronghorn is rapidly declining as a result of climate change — fewer than 70 such pronghorns remain in the U.S. today.
El Paso, Texas
Temperature Change since 1970: +4.74°
El Paso is right at the border of the U.S. and Mexico. It is also situated at an important strategic location along the Rio Grande just past where the Rocky Mountains peter out at their southernmost tip. El Paso has a rich history and culture with a compelling historic downtown peppered with adobe buildings. Unfortunately, El Paso is also bearing the brunt of climate change's havoc, with temperatures there becoming increasingly hostile over time.
The consequences of climate change have forced the city to get creative. For instance, when drought recently depleted the amount of potable drinking water the city could get from the Rio Grande, they came up with a practical (if not appetizing) solution — El Paso is now the first major city in the U.S. on track to start treating its sewer water for consumption.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Temperature Change since 1970: +5.76°
It's no secret Las Vegas relies heavily on tourism and the truth is, skyrocketing temperatures could have a huge negative impact on that industry. This is not just because of the heat but also because rising temps cause extreme weather like the recent dust storms that ravaged Vegas. Such events are not only a safety hazard but also a pretty great way to ruin a relaxing vacation.