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Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,703 words = a ~6 minute read
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Most U.S. cities are at risk of experiencing extreme heat thanks to the "urban heat island effect" that's causing cities to warm as much as 50% faster than the rest of the country.
The big picture: July was the hottest month ever recorded globally, and it was especially brutal for major metros. Severe heat wreaks havoc on cities' infrastructure and presents serious public health risks.
"The extreme heat we’re seeing right now is the result of both climate change and urban development patterns. Cities have to think about the long-term implications of the changing environment."— Katharine Burgess, vice president of urban resilience at the Urban Land Institute
City planners and developers are rethinking urban design to keep buildings and people cool as temperatures rise, according to a new report by the Urban Land Institute first shared with Axios.
By the numbers: On average, cities are 2°F to 6°F warmer than their surroundings.
What's happening: From an economic perspective, cities that plan for super-hot futures may have a competitive advantage as consumers' preferences change with the weather.
The catch: Heat mitigation measures are expensive, especially for large-scale projects. In the near-term, increasing air conditioning will likely be the go-to cooling method, even though air conditioners give off heat that may increase local temperatures and, through emissions, worsen climate change.
Threat level: The impacts of extreme heat are felt disproportionately by a city's most vulnerable populations — the homeless, elderly, young and those living in poverty. Low-income communities are also less likely to have air conditioning or access to pools or cooling centers.
The bottom line: Severe heat will force cities, especially those in already-warm climates, to find long-term cooling strategies to protect their people, infrastructure and economy.
For years, death rates from drug overdoses surged in rural America. But now, overdose death rates are rising faster in cities, according to a newly released data analysis from the Centers for Disease Control.
What's happening: The opioid crisis has devastated many rural areas while heroin deaths are climbing in urban centers.
The big picture: Urban and rural America have taken turns in leading the overdose toll, but the rates have never been very far apart. So while cities took the lead since 2016, the real takeaway from the data is that the drug epidemic is everywhere.
Silver lining: The CDC report covers data through 2017, so it does not include provisional 2018 data indicating that drug overdose deaths may be on the decline for the first time in 30 years.
Broadband technologies are getting better and faster. But despite efforts to narrow the digital divide, rural areas and low-income neighborhoods in big cities still struggle to have access to reliable and affordable broadband service.
In rural areas, about 30% of residents don't have access to wireline broadband or mobile broadband service. Even fewer have access to both options.
The data: The Federal Communications Commission has acknowledged that its data (used to create the charts above) overstates broadband availability.
A stark digital divide still exists in cities, too. Households in cities with the highest poverty rates are up to 10 times more likely than those in higher earning communities to not have access to wireline broadband service at home.
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Airbnb this week acquired Urbandoor, a company that provides "corporate rentals" for business travelers and new employees, typically rented for anywhere between a month to a year, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva writes from San Francisco.
Why it matters: Airbnb, long acquainted with tensions around home-sharing and short-term rentals, is now stepping into the latest housing controversy in its hometown.
What they're saying: Critics, including some San Francisco legislators, say that these companies are using a "loophole" in local regulations by having a minimum stay of 30 days to avoid the label of short-term rentals.
“What we need is housing for people who will make San Francisco their home, who will enroll their children in our schools, who will become members of the community. Instead, developers are taking advantage of our efforts to streamline and expedite construction, and what does it get us? Not housing, that’s what.”— San Francisco supervisor Hillary Ronen in a statement to the SF Examiner
The other side: The companies argue there's a need for this type of medium-term housing.
The bottom line: In cities with severe shortages, controversies around housing are deeply emotional and delicate, regardless of whether companies are following local laws.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Electric scooters are often worse for climate change when compared to the transportation methods they’re displacing, Axios' Amy Harder writes.
A North Carolina State University study shows that "dockless e-scooters consistently result in higher life cycle global warming impacts relative to the use of a bus with high ridership, an electric bicycle, or a bicycle per passenger-mile traveled."
Yes, but: Roughly half of e-scooter riders say they would have walked or biked (greener options) if it weren’t for the scooter, with just one-third saying they would have taken a car instead, according to surveys cited in the study.
One level deeper: The study finds that the global warming impact of an e-scooter, including how it's made and used, is equal to about half the impact of an average gasoline-powered car per mile traveled.
Go deeper: Scooter companies meteoric rise in one chart
Children cool off in Crown Fountain in downtown Chicago in late July. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Podcast: A tale of two startup economies (Dan Primack, Axios)
What ride-hailing is really doing to urban traffic (Laura Bliss, CityLab)
Trump says cities are "a mess." They're actually enjoying a golden age. (Griff Witte, Washington Post)
Women are less trusting of self-driving cars (Joann Muller, Axios)
Do tiny-home owners actually live more sustainably? (spoiler: yes) (Maria Saxton, FastCompany)
Suburb in the sky: How Jakartans built an entire village on top of a mall (Kate Lamb, The Guardian)
Where you live says a lot about how much you like your neighbors, according to a survey of about 1,000 people by Rent.com.
Rural residents reported higher satisfaction with their neighbors than people living in cities. They're also most likely to trust neighbors to care for their pets, house-sit, or keep a spare key to their house.
Urbanites, on the other hand, are least likely to trust their neighbors with much of anything, except jump-starting their car.
The bottom line: Overall, people became friends with only 30% of the neighbors they met, and nearly 40% said they weren't friends with any of their neighbors.
See you next week.