Historically excluded racial and ethnic groups, along with low-income and less educated populations will likely face greater harm from the impacts of climate change, an EPA report detailed Thursday. The study comes at the end of a week dominated by devastating climate impacts across the country.
Under a scenario in which the world is heated by 3.6°F (2°C), Black people are 40% more likely than the general population to live in areas with the highest increases in premature deaths from climate-driven extreme temperatures and are 41% more likely to live in areas with the highest increases in premature deaths from fine particulate pollution like industrial soot (technically known as PM2.5). The report also concluded Hispanics and Latinos are 43% more likely to live in areas with the highest reductions in lost labor hours due to extreme temperatures, while American Indians and Alaska Natives are 48% more likely than the general population to live on land likely to be inundated by sea level rise.
A separate report, also released Thursday, from the Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center determined more than 8,500 people die in a typical year from extreme heat driven by climate change, a number that could increase sevenfold in less than 30 years. Extreme heat currently costs the U.S. $100 billion annually in lost productivity, the Rockefeller report also found, a figure that could double in the next nine years. (Washington Post $; EPA: The Hill, Politico Pro $, Axios; Rockefeller report: Thomson Reuters Foundation, TIME, CBS; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves)