translated from Spanish: The study showing the impact of “climate racism” in the United States

Black people in most U.S. cities suffer twice as much from the impact of high temperatures as their white counterparts, according to a new study.

The authors claim that the differences are not explained by poverty but by historical racism and segregation.

As a result, people of color generally live in areas with fewer green spaces and more buildings and transportation routes, which exacerbates the effect of rising temperatures and climate change.

Cities are well known for amplifying the impact of heat.

The so-called “urban heat island effect” is the technical term for the effect that buildings and infrastructure in cities in general have on temperatures.

All that cement and asphalt attracts and keeps more heat, so both days and nights in large urban areas are much warmer than the surrounding areas.

However, within cities, there are often big differences in the heat island. Areas rich in trees and green spaces are noticeably cooler than those with a high density of homes, shops or industries.

In all but six of the 175 largest urbanized areas in continental America studied, people of color suffer much greater heat impacts.

A previous study in the US found a correlation between the most neighborhoods Hot in big cities and racist housing practices dating back to the 1930s.

Back then, areas with large populations of African Americans or immigrants were “ofmarked in red” in documents by federal officials and deemed too “dangerous” for mortgage loans and investments.

This led to a concentration of poverty and low rates of home ownership in some areas of large cities.

This new study offers a broader look at these more climaurous neighborhoods and the people who live in them.

Using satellite temperature data combined with demographic information from the U.S. Census, the authors found that on average thes persons of live color in areas with summer daytime temperatures much higher than non-Hispanic whites.

For the purposes of the study, the scientists defined as “people of color” all Hispanic people (regardless of race) and anyone who does not identify only as white.

African Americans are exposed to an additional 3.12°C heat on average in urban neighborhoods, compared to an additional 1.47°C for whites.

In all but six of the 175 largest urbanized areas in continental America, people of color suffer much greater heat impacts in summer.

For the black population this is particularly hard. Researchers note that African-Americans are exposed to 3.12°C additional heat on average in urban neighborhoods, compared to an additional 1.47°C for whites.

Exposure to heat not only leads to increased mortality, but is also related to a variety of impacts including heatstroke, heat stroke, loss of productivity at work, and learning disabilities.

Our study helps provide more quantitative evidence that climate racism, environmental racism, exists.” said Angel Hsu, a researcher at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and lead author of the study.

“And it’s not just an isolated incident, it’s a widespread phenomenon across the United States.”

While being poor is certainly a factor in exposure to increased urban heat in the summer, this element alone did not provide a complete explanation.

In about half of the cities, the average person of color faces more heat in summer than people living below the poverty line, even though only 10% of people of color are classified as poor.

Differences in the impact of heat are rooted in racist urban planning policies of the past, according to researchers.

The root causes of these differences can be found in history, experts say.

“PoWe should trace many of these current environmental, socio-economic and health inequalities back to urban planning decisions and policies in the twentieth century, such as the demarcate with ‘red lines’ the neighborhoods Considered Dangerous to invest in infrastructure or housing loans,” said Jeremy Hoffman, chief scientist at the Virginia Science Museum, who was not involved in the new study.

“While the money doesn’t grow on the trees, it’s clearly located in the neighborhoods below them, especially in the United States,” he added.

Given that temperatures are likely to rise due to global warming in the coming decades, this is a problem that is likely to get worse without a significant contribution from the state and federal government, as promised by President Joe Biden.

Solutions, however, must be thought through carefully.

In the study, the authors reflect on the fact that planting trees in areas with heat stress can reduce summer temperatures by 1.5°C, which is good for residents.

But new trees can also increase property value. And this will impact the price of housing, which may end up displacing residents of the minorities it was intended to help.

Policies to alleviate the impact of climate change on slums must take into account the opinion of their residents, according to the study’s authors.

“As our society emerges from the pandemic, it showed that these same communities that suffer the most heat during the summer are also the ones suffering the greatest impacts of Covid-19, it’s essential that we make sure we put them at the center of our recovery plans,” Hoffman said.

“But if decisions are made for these neighborhoods without the input and guidance of the citizens who live there, those policies may not be better than the practices of demarcating neighborhoods with red lines or any other nefarious planning process of the past.”

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Original source in Spanish

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