LISTEN: Climate Change, Cascading Disasters, and the Pacific Northwest Heat Wave

We chat with Jola Ajibade, an assistant professor at PSU, about the record-breaking heat wave that slammed the Pacific Northwest and the need for adaptation measures and climate action now.

By Gabriel Granillo July 2, 2021

"I think [climate change] is becoming a lived experience for everybody across the world right now," says Jola Ajibade, assistant professor in the geology department at Portland State University. "The heat wave in Portland really brings home the need for us to think about mitigating climate change, otherwise, we're likely to see more of those types of—quite frankly, I thought it was a disaster."

Last weekend saw a record-breaking heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, with some areas experiencing over 115 degree temperatures. As someone who spent a lot of my adolescence in Arizona, I can tell you that is exactly how it feels in Phoenix, and it sucks, and it’s why I left, really. But one of the saving graces of living in a town like Phoenix is that just about everybody and every building has air conditioning.

Jola Ajibade

In Portland and the Pacific Northwest, it’s not quite the same, and so when the historic heat wave hit us this weekend, it hit hard, revealing just how underprepared our region is for such a climate disaster and resulting in at least 60 heat-related deaths in Oregon. 

So for this week’s Footnotes we wanted to chat with Jola Ajibade. She’s an assistant professor in the geography department at Portland State University, and her research focuses on how individuals, communities, and cities respond to global climate change. In this interview, we talk about the record-breaking heatwave that slammed the Pacific Northwest and the need for adaptation measures and climate action now. 

"It's hard for me to use the word 'normal.' I really don't want this to be normal, but if this is going to happen a bit more frequently, we need to be prepared," Ajibade says. 



About Footnotes

Every Friday we break down our most important stories with the writers, contributors, and editors who crafted them. Hosted by Portland Monthly associate editor Gabriel Granillo, Footnotes provides clarity on complex stories with intimate and informative interviews.

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