In U.S., Warming Will Hit Poor and Minorities Hardest

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In the heartland of capitalism, the impact of global warming will be particularly devastating if you are poor, or black, or Latino

In the United States, climate change will cause people of color and the poor to pay more for basic necessities, experience higher death rates during extreme weather events, and breathe dirtier air. A new report on the “Climate Gap,” shows hidden and unequal harm that climate change will cause to people of color and the poor in California and elsewhere in the United States.

While past research has shown how climate change will disproportionately hurt people in developing nations, The Climate Gap: Inequalities in how climate change hurts Americans and how to close the gap, is an analysis of available data that explores the disparities in the domestic impact of climate change and the abilities of different groups within U.S. borders to adapt to it.

The report highlights how extreme weather events such as heat waves, droughts and floods already impact people of color and the poor disproportionately, and are expected to increase in their frequency and intensity in coming decades.

Some of the report’s findings:

  • African Americans living in Los Angeles have a projected heat-wave-mortality rate that is nearly twice that of other Los Angeles residents.
  • Minorities and the poor are also less likely to have access to air conditioning and cars, restricting their capacity to evacuate.
  • In addition to experiencing greater harm during extreme weather events, minorities and the poor will breathe even dirtier air and pay even more for basic necessities just as they have fewer or shifting job opportunities as a result of climate change.
  • A study of nine California counties found that for every 10°F (5.6°C) increase in temperature, there is a 2.6% increase in cardiovascular deaths.
  • California’s agricultural and construction workers, who are predominantly Mexican and Central American immigrants, have experienced severe heat-related illness and death with data pointing towards possible increasing trends in recent years
  • Low-income urban neighborhoods and communities of color are particularly vulnerable to increased frequency of heat waves and higher temperatures because they are often segregated in the inner city, which is more likely to experience the “heat-island” effect, that commonly occurs in urban areas because dark-colored materials used to construct roads and buildings absorb heat and do not allow it to dissipate at the same rate as soil, grass, forests, and other less industrial materials.

Read the full report:


  • It would be nice if a report by a group of scientists came out for socialism, or even radical reforms — but no one should be surprised that they don’t. But the evidence they provide of the class and race differential is important — ecosocialists should know about it and use it.

  • The executive summary suggests that we should “create economic and health
    opportunities for everyone.” Perhaps the rest of the report is less ambigious about what such an economy would be like. In other words, there may or may not be a vision of ‘healthy green’ capitalism in the body of the report.