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Articles by Molly Peterson

Molly Peterson, formerly with NPR and Southern California Public Radio, now writes for all kinds of public media outlets.

Featured Article

This story was originally published by High Country News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

If heat is the enemy, Marcela Herrera thought she was ready for battle last summer at her family’s north Los Angeles apartment.

Old air conditioner units chugged away on windows in three rooms. Extension cords snaked into box fans on the floor, positioned along a hallway to push cooler air towards warmer spots. Bamboo shades, bent blinds, and curtains beat back the sun.

But none of that prevented her eldest son, Edwin Díaz, from getting a nosebleed each time a heatwave crested over the family’s dense working-class neighborhood. And as outdoor temperatures climbed into the 90s, the 17-year-old suffered painful, debilitating migraines. The family doctor recommended that he try to stay cooler for the sake of his health.

Western communities, including Los Angeles, are aware that urban heat is a serious and growing threat to public health, and the warming climate only increases the problem. “It’s not as visible as other catastrophes, but the implications can be far reaching,” says Elizabeth Rhoades, who works on climate issues in Los A... Read more