Many of America’s most populous regions are reeling from the effects of climate change, from rising sea levels, increased flooding, extreme heat, and a surge in wildfires and hurricanes. At the same time, the nation’s biggest cities within those regions are home to a higher proportion of communities of color.
Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report that highlighted how racial and ethnic minority communities face the most severe harms from climate change. Black Americans are 34 percent more likely to live in areas with the highest rates of childhood asthma while Latinos are 43 percent more likely to reside in areas with the highest projected reductions in labor hours due to extreme temperatures.
Throughout the country, mayors, often pressed by climate advocates, have attempted to address the crisis with modest policies designed to improve the health of residents and local economies.
But can this patchwork approach mitigate the threat that climate change poses to those living in large cities? How can communities of color in America’s major metropolitan areas be better positioned to brace for the impact of climate change?