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California Legislators Eye Climate Bond to Prepare for Disasters

Another legacy of redlining: Unequal exposure to heat waves

Mario

A new study published in the journal Climate found that the historical practice of “redlining” is a strong predictor of which neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to extreme heat. Image credit: Mario Tama / Getty Images

Severe heat kills more people in the United States than any other hazardous weather-related event. As climate change accelerates, the sweltering heat will become much more extreme, and the associated mortality rate will rise.

Like so many aspects of the climate crisis, heat doesn’t affect all people equally. Marginalized low-income communities of color, especially those in larger cities such as New York and Los Angeles, bear the brunt of heat waves. These concrete jungles with barely any green space to cool them down are drastically hotter than their surrounding suburbs and rural areas — a phenomenon known as the “urban heat island effect.”

And that’s not an accident. It’s the result of decades-old policy choices that are still reverberating today. A new study published in the journal Climate found that the historical practice of “redlining” is a strong predictor of which neighborhoods are disproportionately exposed to extreme heat.

“Our zip codes are also one of the major predictors of our health,” said Vivek Shandas, one of the authors of the study and a professor of climate adaptation at Portland State University. “By separating housing policy from climate change, we’re doing a disservice to our ability to create safe spaces, particularly among those communities who don’t have a choice about where to live.” Historically, redlining was an effort to segregate communities of color by refusing…

 

California Legislators Eye Climate Bond to Prepare for Disasters

In a state burdened by billions of dollars in wildfire damage, California lawmakers are hoping for an advance loan before the next climate-fueled catastrophe hits.

Lawmakers in the Democratic-dominated state Legislature return to work Monday for the second year of a two-year session. Their to-do list includes a $4.2 billion climate bond, an ambitious proposal to borrow money before they need it to prepare for the types of natural disasters that have plagued the state. The disasters are so destructive they forced the nation’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, to file for bankruptcy last year.

The borrowing proposal is one of dozens of holdover bills from last year that are still alive in 2020 but must pass at least one legislative chamber by the end of January to have a chance at becoming law. The logjam is complicated by an accelerated election cycle that puts many lawmakers on primary election ballots in March instead of June, making it less likely for politically risky proposals to advance…

 

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