In recent decades, extreme heat events and heatwave durations have increased across the United States, predominantly impacting urban areas and creating Urban Heat Island (UHI) effects. Rising temperatures and UHIs are concerning because of their implications for human health, such as the worsening of current asthma prevalence and cardiovascular disease-related deaths. As a way to address adverse health outcomes associated with extreme heat, many state and city governments have made efforts to mitigate climate change through policy. The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the effects of mitigation initiatives on adverse health outcomes associated with extreme heat. The impact of particular city and state policies, including Climate Action Plans, Renewable Portfolio Standards, and Fleet Energy Efficiency Standards, will be considered. My research asks the following question, "Do policy measures implemented between 1990 and 2017 affect current asthma incidence and cardiovascular disease deaths in the 60 largest U.S. cities in 2017?"
This paper uses Ordinary Least Squares regressions to identify whether cities with Climate Action Plans, Renewable Portfolio Standards, and Fleet Energy Efficiency Standards will have significantly fewer current asthma prevalence and cardiovascular disease deaths than cities that have not implemented those mitigation policies. The results show that the relationship between extreme heat, health outcomes, and mitigation policies are complex and cannot be generalized. The work presented in this thesis aims to further the conversation of climate change policy in the U.S. and provide city decision-makers with research on climate change mitigation strategies.