"Equitable Climate Resilience" - What?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency is teaming up with cities in 11 states to map "heat equity."
Extreme heat kills more Americans than any other weather event, but not everyone’s risk is the same. Within the same city, some neighborhoods can be up to 20°F hotter than others and, due largely to the practice of historic redlining — discriminatory, race-based lending and housing policies in the 1930s — these hot spots are often home to poorer communities of color.
To learn where action is needed to protect vulnerable populations now and in the future, NOAA’s National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) and partners are launching new community-led campaigns that will map the hottest parts of cities in 11 states across the country this summer. The communities include Albuquerque, New Mexico; Atlanta; New York City; Charleston, South Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Raleigh & Durham, North Carolina; San Diego; San Francisco; and parts of New Jersey, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Virginia.
A heat study conducted in Los Angeles a few years ago recorded the heat disparity between affluent, heavily-treed neighbourhoods and the poorer neighbourhoods of East L.A. where trees and foliage were sparse to non-existent.
On top of climate change, cityscapes worsen extreme heat’s heavy toll. Known as the “urban heat island effect,” paved, dark surfaces, like roads and buildings, absorb and radiate more heat than natural landscapes with trees and grass, driving up local temperatures.
According to a recent nationwide studyoffsite link spurred by past NOAA and partner heat island campaign efforts, neighborhoods subjected to historical redlining typically lack green space and suffer most from urban heat islands. The study found that 94% of formerly redlined areas, which remain mostly lower income communities of color, are exposed to higher temperatures than non-redlined, affluent areas.
This is a universal problem. Impoverished communities, already beset by a host of social and health problems are now reeling from the effects of severe heating.