Climate Central held an online workshop on July 19, 2021, to discuss the impacts of extreme heat on communities and on individuals’ health. Panelists provided an overview of how climate change is warming our planet and increasing the frequency and intensity of dangerous heat, and they described how hard surfaces and a lack of vegetation is exacerbating heat in urban environments.
Not all neighborhoods in cities are feeling this extra heat equally, though — the parts of cities that are the hottest tend to be formerly 'redlined' areas occupied by communities of color. Panelists suggested interviewing residents of these communities and focusing on their experiences and health risks for coverage. Solutions to urban heat include replacing paving with green space and planting more trees, and improving access to air conditioning and providing residents with information about health risks associated with high temperatures. Heat is America's main weather-related killer and those who are most vulnerable include outdoor workers, including farmworkers, as well as seniors, children and those with health problems including diabetes.
Kim Cobb, Georgia Power Chair, ADVANCE Professor, and Director, Global Change Program, Georgia Tech
Juan Declet-Barreto, Senior Social Scientist for Climate Vulnerability, Union of Concerned Scientists
Meenakshi Chabba, Coordinator of Research Programs, Extreme Events Institute, Florida International University
Na'Taki Osborne Jelks, Assistant Professor, Environmental and Health Sciences, Spelman College
Cheryl Holder, Internal Medicine, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Community Initiatives at Florida International University's Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine (FIU HWCOM); Co-Chair, Florida Clinicians for Climate Action (FCCA); and Co-Chair, Miami-Dade County Heat-Health Task Force.
Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks, Reporter, The Sacramento Bee
Priyanka Runwal, freelance science, health and environment reporter for Climate Central and other outlets
Climate Central Resources on Heat
Vulnerable Populations Across US Metro Areas at Risk of Fatal Heat by Mid-Century
Maps of heat islands and low income neighborhoods from NPR partnership
Sacramento’s tree canopy reflects the city’s inequities. How a $250 million plan could help
Already in short supply’: How climate change could chip away at sleep health
Interactive map from the Science Museum of Virginia and Esri showing formerly redlined neighborhoods in 108 cities and their exposure to urban heat