Want to Survive Climate Change? You’ll Need a Good Community

from Wired

In the summer of 1995, a blistering heat wave settled over Chicago for three days. It killed 739 people, making it one of the most unexpectedly lethal disasters in modern American history. No statistical models of the heat wave predicted such a high death toll. Researchers in the American Journal of Public Health reported that their analysis “failed to detect relationships between the weather and mortality that would explain what happened.”

Just as mysterious as the number of fatalities was the way they were distributed across the city. Several of the most deadly areas were entirely black and disproportionately poor, but so were three of the least deadly. Adjacent areas that looked alike—like Englewood and Auburn Gresham, two hyper-­segregated black South Side neighborhoods with high poverty and crime—suffered vastly different effects.

Scientists who study urban breakdowns like this usually focus on hard-line infrastructure: electrical grids, transit networks, communications systems, water lines, and the like. And to be sure, Chicago’s aging infrastructure was woefully equipped for extreme heat. The power grid failed, leaving tens of thousands without air conditioning. Roads buckled and drawbridges locked, leading to gridlock and long ambulance response times. But those failures blanketed the entire city; they didn’t explain the patchwork death toll.

As a young sociologist who grew up in Chicago, I wanted to figure out why the heat wave killed who it did, where it did. So I set out to examine those pairs of “neighboring neighborhoods” that should have fared similarly but didn’t.

More here.

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  1. As people on Earth we structure our daily activities around historical and current climate conditions. Climate change will affect our society such as our health, transportation, infrastructure, food, and water supply. Some people will face more challenges than others. Increasing temperatures can impact people who live in areas that are more vulnerable to droughts, coastal storms, and sea level rises. Human health is an effect of climate change as many researchers have shown that rising temperatures can cause infectious diseases. Because of rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns, the chances of contracting an infectious disease that are transmitted by insects through contaminated waters are substantial. Additionally, cardiac and respiratory problems will occur because of high levels of surface ozone and particles that affect breathing of individuals. Another example, is droughts which leads to greater evaporation rates and results in water loss in soil and plants. Droughts can threaten water availability, access, and even the quality of water we use. Climate change will affect our food production as well. The population is expected to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050 and we need agriculture around the world to increase production. However, scientist say that extreme weather, increasing levels of carbon dioxide, and rising sea levels threaten to decrease the quantity and quality of our food supply. With no agriculture we have no way to feed our live stock which can increases prices of food or make food tough to get. Climate change can cause devastating impacts on the culture if it is not addressed immediately.
    Climate change is not just an environmental issue it is a major social issue as well. There can be population demands because of climate change such as housing and education. This will impact biodiversity risks such as soil changes, behavior of species, water quality, risk from pests, and diseases. People are going to want to move to places where they are safe and avoid health issues from occurring. Global stability is also a social issue as events such as economic crisis and natural disasters which affect stability and puts high pressure on the government to make changes. There can be diseases brought in from international trade which can cause an outbreak. There will be an issue of wealth distribution in coastal areas. The costal land provides a lot to the ecosystem such as tourism, food production, and recreational activities. People will want to go inland if they are seeing rising sea levels and strong coastal storm every year. There can be an increase risk of wildfires with increase human power use, and impact on the availability of water will increase the demand for water which will cause prices to go up. Lastly, there will be issues with local and national government decisions. Some issues that are in disagreement are renewable energy, clean water supply, and overall how to attack climate change. If both local and the national government do not get on the same page about climate change the world will be in a bad state.

  2. Since Greta Thunbergs addressed the UN about climate change and the older generations hand of blame in the main components of the current climate crisis. Thunberg just sixteen years old works alongside adult professionals and politicians to help conserve the universe and try to reverse the detrimental effects that human habits in the past years have done to the environment. The politicians in response to this slammed this child with insults, threats, and once again negligence to accept responsibility for their large presence in the current crisis the environment is in. However, an article from 2017 which predates the young girls address dismantles the argument made by the older population that climate action was not brought to the attention of the UN or any large platforms where the common civilian is able to see. The article “Want to survive climate change? You’ll need a better community.” exposes the human footprint in the blame for the condition the environment was in back in the year 2017. This article placed the blame on the communities way back when Great Thunberg was only a freshman in high school. The article speaks about Chicago and how the way urban communities are set up effect the natural environment around it. For example the water lines, the housing, energy resources, and littering depends all on the direct community and has a direct impact on the value of the physical environment in those communities and around it. If you look at this from an economic standpoint it makes more sense more or less. It makes sense because of the cost of climate friendly communities and resources, the sad reality is that the more harmful resources are often less of charge. Renewable energy, solar panels, detectable waste and recyclable baskets all come with a higher cost than fossil fuels, littering, and fossil fuels. This is not because the people in these communities do not care but simple due to economics. Studies show that typically families with lower incomes live in assimilated areas making the median income for a population collectively lower not enabling these communities to switch to a more climate friendly town as they do not have the salaries or time to be concerned with these issues because their reality is that they are just trying to get by paycheck to paycheck. The older generations faced these issues as they were trying to establish and build the American culture, society, and economy and had bigger concerns in closer futures then the possibility of detrimental effects to their urbanization decades later. The people were also just trying to survive day to day and make life easier in the present during this period of industrialization. With this being said the actions of the other generations in their earlier periods of life is not why the youth is furious; the youth is enraged because millennial and gen Z will accept responsibility for their hand in the climate crisis, while older generations will dismiss it and refuse to accept responsibility for their part in it. Overall, climate action is serious and needs to be taken care of aggressively and as soon as possible before the effects cannot be reversed and who the blame should fall on for this disaster will no longer matter.

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