Pre-(official)summer heatwaves are already breaking records and hitting dangerous levels with more, inequitably-harmful, heat to come. Three women were found dead in their senior living facility in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood earlier this month, days after residents in the facilities began complaining of excessive heat. The families of the deceased, who have filed wrongful death suits against the facility’s manager, say some units in the building were as hot as 103°F on the day the women were found.
Climate change, mainly caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is making heatwaves more frequent and severe. The impacts of that heat are not equally felt, however. Black New York City residents are twice as likely to die from heat as white New Yorkers, but the inequity permeates the city’s response far beyond body counts, including disparately-appointed libraries in lower-income parts of the city, or the cops armed with 9mm pistols who demanded Shakema Edwards lift her shirt to prove to them her swimsuit had the proper lining before allowing her to access a public pool in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
The city’s public pools are largely segregated, in part because of racist siting decisions during the Great Depression and New Deal. (Heatwaves: NBC; Chicago deaths: Block Club Chicago, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, WGN, AP, The Guardian; New York: New York Times $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)