Muckraker: Grist on Politics

A new report finds that African-Americans in the United States will suffer the effects of climate change more severely than white Americans.

They are twice as likely to live in cities where the heat-island effect makes already-high temperatures more severe. They’re also likely to be “fuel poor.” Increases in energy demand due to greater use of air-conditioning and population growth are more likely to affect them.

“There is a fierce urgency regarding climate change effects on the African-American community,” Ralph Everett, the co-chair of the Commission to Engage African-Americans on Climate Change, told Reuters. “People need to understand what is at stake — our very health and well-being.”

A survey of 750 black adults in the U.S. found that 81 percent said the government should take strong action on climate change. Seventy percent said it was an important issue for the 2008 presidential candidates to address.

The findings were announced on Tuesday at a press conference to announce the formation of the Commission to Engage African-Americans on Climate Change, a project of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Also this week, one of South Carolina’s largest coalitions of black churches spoke out on global warming, citing concerns that blacks are more at risk due to global warming. Leaders from the 2,000 churches in the state that belong to the National Council of Churches said they would urge their congregations to write to their representatives asking them to promote alternative energy and climate action.