Extreme heat fueled by climate change kills more people in the US than any other weather-related event each year, and those who are at the greatest risk of dying are Black and brown people. People who die from extreme heat are typically older, have underlying health conditions, and don’t have access to air conditioning or any greenspace in their neighborhood.
A 2021 study of the 175 largest urban areas in the US found that people of color were more likely than white people to live on what are called “heat islands,” where the buildings, roofs, roads, sidewalks, and parking lots absorb and radiate the sun’s heat, while not providing any trees, parks, ponds, or lakes that naturally cool the surrounding landscape. Black people in New York City are twice as likely to die from heat than their white counterparts, as there’s a 35-degree difference on a hot day in the South Bronx compared to the Upper West Side. (The Root, Derrick Z. Jackson column)