A delivery driver relies on 15 bottles of water to get him through his route. A beekeeper keeps a portable fan under her veil. A construction worker starts as early as 6 a.m. but still ends the day with a sweat-soaked shirt.
This week’s triple-digit heat has pounded workers across Southern California, particularly those who labor primarily outdoors or whose workplaces, like many warehouses, lack air conditioning. It’s yet another way that climate change is contributing to inequality, and it is only going to get worse.
“We’re seeing temperatures increase; we’re seeing heat waves become more common,” said Amir Jina, an assistant professor at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy who researches how environmental change affects societal development. This is an effect “less borne by the person in the high-paying job in an air-conditioned office” and more by those in lower-income jobs, such as warehouse workers and delivery drivers.
“This is not a problem equally felt across society,” he said.