Sunday, January 16

Miami Heat Director Calls For Action On ‘Silent Killer’ In Climate Crisis | Miami


Miami’s new heat director has called for greater federal and state action on the deadly threat posed by rising temperatures after becoming the first official in the US designated to focus solely on heat waves.

Jane Gilbert, tasked with coordinating and accelerating efforts to protect lives from extreme heat by Miami-Dade County, said more attention was needed on what has been called the “silent killer” of the climate crisis.

“In Miami you don’t need a lot of temperature rise for things to get dangerous,” he said. “I hope that the heat is integrated into all kinds of thinking about how to deal with climate change and infrastructure. We are seeing a growing awareness of this threat in the US From the cities, it is really emerging. “

Heat is the deadliest of all diseases caused by the climate crisis, with more than 700 people on average now dying each year from its effects. according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An independent study last year estimated this death toll to be actually much higher, with about 5,600 deaths a year.

Cities in traditionally colder climates are at particular risk from the growing threat of heat waves, as residents often lack air conditioning and other adaptations to cope with the onset of hot temperatures. In many US cities, low-income neighborhoods of color are typically much hotter than nearby, more leafy areas where white residents are the majority.

Gilbert said that even traditionally used places for heating, such as Miami, will need to do more to provide cooling centers for vulnerable people, generate more shade through increased tree cover, and educate people about the dangers posed by temperatures. suffocating.

Miami-Dade currently experiences about 40 days a year that feel like 100F (37C) but is estimated this total will skyrocket to 134 such days a year by mid-century if global warming emissions are not drastically reduced.

Democrats in Congress have pushed for a law that would force the US Department of Labor to develop new national standards to protect people who work outdoors in the heat. TO bill demanding that this be named after Asunción Valdivia, a California farm worker who died in 2004 after picking grapes for 10 hours without interruption in temperatures of 105 ° F (40 ° C). They eventually took him home, but he started foaming at the mouth and died.

According According to figures from the Department of Labor, more than 800 American workers have died and 70,000 have been seriously injured from heat stress since the 1990s, but there is no national mandate on heat and only a handful of states, such as California. , where workers must be filtered drinking water and shaded areas once temperatures reach 80 ° F (26 ° C) have standards in place to protect those who work outdoors.

In May, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed a new invoice to help Florida deal with rising sea levels, but proposals To ensure workers have adequate shade, regular breaks and plenty of drinking water have languished. “At the state level, we are going from very little action to some action related to sea level rise, so we are delighted, but we need the state to start looking at the increase in heat,” Gilbert said.

“There could be investment in green infrastructure, rehabilitation of substandard housing, and action for outdoor workers. There is much more to do. “

Gilbert will jointly lead a new heat working group that will seek to develop a series of measures, such as a heat standard for outdoor workers and a new alert system for when temperatures soar. Cheryl Holder, a Florida doctor who will co-lead the task force, said action is required to deal with the growing number of heat-related conditions she now faces.

“The number of dangerous days is increasing and we are seeing more heat complaints, more skin problems, more cases of diabetes that are not as well controlled, more injuries when workers are hot and dizzy at work,” he said. “It will be difficult to get changes, but it is urgent. We really need to address this now. “

Holder said he had raised the possibility of barely livable Florida with lawmakers, suggesting to aides to Marco Rubio, the Republican senator, that even Disney World will become unappealing to visitors if temperatures regularly exceed 100 ° F.

“Florida sells itself on tourism, the great outdoors,” he said. “If it’s unbearably hot, who wants to be outside? It’s crucial that Florida takes the heat and how to handle it seriously. “


www.theguardian.com

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