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Investigators from the South Central CAP/RISA Team Release Report on Understanding Climate and Environmental Impacts for Vulnerable Residents in Tulsa

downed powerlines on a city street

The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program’s (SCIPP) Theme 4, Climate Justice, assesses how cities in the South Central U.S. are adapting to climate change and whether they consider the needs of vulnerable residents in their plans. As part of this work, Ph.D. student Olivia VanBuskirk and Co-PI Dr. Lauren Mullenbach recently conducted field work in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to investigate how community members are impacted by extreme weather events – namely extreme heat and flooding – and what steps the City of Tulsa is taking to prepare for the future. After conducting their research, SCIPP investigators compiled a final report on their findings entitled: “Understanding Climate and Environmental Impacts for Vulnerable Residents in Tulsa”.

The report outlines five overarching findings:

  • Residents are concerned about multiple climate hazards.
  • Tulsa grapples with multiple environmental issues such as air and water pollution, in addition to climate hazards.
  • Interviewees expressed a lack of trust in government.
  • The environment is not a priority in the local government.
  • The work of local activists and recently developed city plans provide some hope for the future.

Interestingly, the surveys and interviews revealed concerns for not only climate and weather hazards, such as extreme heat, more severe storms, wind, and flooding, but other environmental hazards as well. Residents reported being concerned about water pollution in the Arkansas River and air pollution exceeding EPA regulations. The interviews also highlighted a lack of trust in how the local government handles events like wind damage or power outages during extreme heat. However, there is hope as Tulsa adopted their new comprehensive plan which includes a chapter on challenges and strategies for dealing with flooding, air pollution, energy resources, and conservation. Furthermore, many environmental activists and organizations are working in the Tulsa area to continue pushing environmental and climate hazard solutions. While only focused on the city of Tulsa, this information can be used for intelligent planning in many other cities across the SCIPP region and beyond.

Read the report » 

For more information, contact Caylah Cruickshank.

Image credit: Mike Simons/Tulsa World, via Associated Press

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