As if climate change weren't enough of a huge jerk, now we find out that it's racist, too -- or at least it's following America's lead.
A new study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives digs deep under the sidewalks and streets that are soaking up all this new heat in our cities -- and finds that not all neighborhoods and racial groups are faring equally. According to the research, blacks, Asians, and Latinos are all significantly more likely to live in high-risk heat-island conditions than white people.
At first glance, this seems to make some sense: Due to a long history of racist policies and lending practices, people of color are more likely than whites to live in poor neighborhoods. Neighborhood infrastructure in poor areas is mostly made of concrete and asphalt (with some soil here and there, often tinged with heavy metals). Those "impervious surfaces" conduct heat like crazy, and turn these areas into "heat islands" surrounded by their richer, greener neighbors.
Dense tree cover in urban areas can improve local health factors and has even been associated with a decrease in crime in some cities. But cities don't tend to invest in trees for poor neighborhoods, where residents without their own private green space aren't in a position to invest for themselves.
But this study found something entirely new: The heat-island effect and lack of neighborhood trees is more closely correlated with race than it is with class.