Heat is not an equal opportunity killer- POLITICO


It’s no secret that wealthier, whiter communities are better equipped to deal with the climate crisis. They are more likely to receive federal assistance from wildfires and floods, their air is cleaner, and they are less likely to die from extreme heat.

But a groundbreaking new analysis lays bare the extent of the inequitable toll of future warming across the country.

POLITICO’s E&E News reporter Thomas Frank analyzed peer-reviewed climate projections by a nonprofit research group called First Street Foundation, broken down by zip code where extreme heat will hit hardest in years coming.

Across the country, largely non-white areas will experience a disproportionate number of dangerously hot days compared to more white neighborhoods, Frank found.

For example, parts of Homestead, Florida, where 65% of residents are Hispanic and 22% are black, will experience the largest increase in extreme heat in the country by 2053 with 45% After days over 100 degrees per year.

By comparison, the largely affluent Fisher Island, which is on the Atlantic coast of Florida and whose population is 79% white, will experience only 32 more days of extreme heat by the middle of the century.

The disparity has a lot to do with location: Non-white populations are concentrated in areas thought to experience more extreme heat, namely the hottest Southern states and major cities that lack cooling green spaces.

Geography aside, heat is not an equal opportunity killer. In addition to directly causing dehydration or heat stroke, it can also exacerbate underlying health conditions.

Research shows that people of color are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease. The systemic lack of access to medical care or nutrition only compounds the problem.

At least 1,300 people die each year in the United States due to extreme heat – the biggest weather-related killer in the country – although research suggests that these figures are underestimated. The unequal impacts aren’t just felt in communities of color. The elderly, people dependent on opioids and people without stable housing are also disproportionately affected.

To help address the problem, the Biden administration last year launched a federal office focused on climate change and health equity, but Congress has yet to fund it.

Despite the lack of funding, the bureau is pushing the health industry to reduce emissions while developing new strategies for environmental justice.

It’s Monday thanks for listening POLITICO Power Switch. I am your host, Arianna Skibell. Power Switch is brought to you by the journalists behind E&E news and POLITICO Energy. Send your advice, comments, questions to [email protected]

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