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ENEWS: Intersections of climate, race, and economic inequalities

Date Published: 07/22/2021

Author: Erin Wilson

Intersections of climate, race, and economic inequalities 

In the recent heat waves rolling across the country, we thought it may be another important time to bring up the intersections between climate & the environment, race, and economic inequality. “Racism is magnifying the deadly impact of rising city heat” from Nature details the relationships between extreme weather impact and inequalities. It includes climate research on patterns of environmental injustices as well as historical context, such as past fatal heat waves and the impact of “redlining” (referring to a 1933 federal loan-approval program in which “neighbourhoods with a high percentage of minority racial or ethnic groups or immigrants were almost inevitably graded as D… and marked as red on city maps”). It also provides interviews with people who can testify to the disproportionate effect of climate change and heat waves on historically marginalized communities and those who live below the poverty line. Finally, the article lists various possible solutions, such as public warnings about heat waves, keeping parks and air-conditioned community centers open longer during extreme heat, and small initiatives that aim to reduce environmental impact on vulnerable neighborhoods in their cities.   

“Exposure to heat also correlated with income; people living below the poverty line, irrespective of race or ethnicity, were exposed to higher temperatures than were those above the poverty line. Yet race remains the factor that shapes so much of US urban heat exposure. And the history traces back more than a century and a half,” the article says.  

For Minnesota context on the current heat waves, check out this Associated Press article in the Star Tribune, which discusses drought, threats to water supplies and agriculture, and increased wildfire risk. Minnesota “has now reached the threshold to trigger the “warning phase” under the statewide drought plan,” the DNR said last week. The warning phase consists of “convening of a state drought task force made up of state, federal, regional and local experts, which last convened in 2012,” both recommended and mandated water conservation measures, and advising “residents and landowners to watch for notifications of restrictions from their local water utilities.”

Equity Map stories - tune into our social media! 

Here’s a reminder that we will be posting short summaries of different stories from the Minnesota Equity Map on our Twitter and Facebook! And as always, we are searching for more stories to add to the map so it can serve as a way to highlight regional, racial, and environmental equity work happening around the state and connect people who want to create change in their communities. We hope to fill this map with enough stories that it can function as a powerful tool of collaboration and legislative advocacy. Please fill out this form if you or an organization/initiative you know of may be interested in being featured on the map. 

TRUE Tuesday July 27 

Part two of Understanding Relationships with Sovereign Nations in Minnesota is July 27 from 2:30-4 p.m. This session will “focus on the helpful, innovative tools used to navigate the topics we overviewed in the first session: land acknowledgements, treaty rights, history, and building community partnerships,” the event description says. To find out more and register, click here.

Quote:

“To help reduce the risk of heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses, urban planners, meteorologists, climate experts and other scientists are working to identify the most vulnerable neighbourhoods. Underlying such efforts is a growing awareness of how extreme heat takes a disproportionate toll on people of colour and those in lower-income communities. Racist urban policies, particularly in the United States, have left communities of colour at higher risk of heat-related illness or death than their white neighbours.”“Racism is magnifying the deadly impact of rising city heat” in Nature


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