The newest study from Climate Matters ranks our city’s “urban heat island” as one of the hottest in the nation. Ranking at the top of 159 cities studied in the US, we now average 35 days a year when heat exceeds dangerous levels. Within 30 years it’s predicted we’ll experience 115 days of deadly heat yearly.
The effects of urban heat pose serious threats to our public health. Children, the elderly, and those who work outdoors, or who suffer from respiratory illnesses are particularly vulnerable. High temperatures can also lead to heatstroke. As thermometers rise, air pollution intensifies, creating smog, which can trigger asthma attacks. While asthma is the most common chronic disease among children, it’s estimated that around 14% of children in Louisiana suffer from the condition.
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We need leaders who are unafraid to confront the realities of climate change. Time has long passed for waffling on a critical issue that some claim doesn’t exist. Some call it a hoax, a miscalculation, or a fairy-tale problem invented by alarmists. What is alarming is the inaction by politicians who turn a blind eye because they are funded by those whose actions contribute to global warming.
Some cities are already working to reduce the effects of climate change. In Louisville, Kentucky $115,700 has been allocated toward a tree canopy assessment to address urban heat and stormwater management. Mayor Greg Fischer is directing studies so that the city will know exactly where tree canopies are lacking—right down to the street and address level. Why can’t we do this?
Environmental inequities and patterns of injustice can be found in policies around flood protection. Dating back to residential patterns established before the Civil War, low-income, minority residents continue to occupy areas of the city that are in low lying and prone to flooding. After Katrina, 38 of the city’s 47 extreme-poverty census tracts were flooded.