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Biden announces plan to tackle extreme heat caused by climate change


The Biden administration on Monday morning announced an interagency plan to deal with the effects of frequent extreme heat waves caused by global warming.

Extreme heat is now the leading cause of weather-related death in the United States, and it is becoming more common and severe. This summer, 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the historical average, was the hottest on record in the continental United States.

President Biden on Friday in a climate change conference call with the Major Economies Energy and Climate Forum. (Al Drago / Getty Images)

“While we have all seen the graphic and heartbreaking images of super storms, wildfires and floods in recent weeks, another climate catastrophe lurks just below the radar: extreme heat,” the president said. Biden in a statement. “As with other weather events, the extreme heat is increasing in frequency and ferocity due to climate change, threatening communities across the country. … My administration will not let Americans face this threat alone.

The administration’s plan has four main components, according to a fact sheet released by the White House:

Limit exposure in the workplace. The Ministry of Labor will develop regulations and processes to define and enforce regulations limiting exposure to extreme heat for outdoor workers, in sectors such as agriculture, construction and delivery, and indoor workers, including factory, warehouse and kitchen staff.

Help families cool off. The Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidelines giving states, tribes and territories the ability to use funds already designated to help low-income households pay their heating bills and instead spend these funds to air conditioning. The Environmental Protection Agency is using money from the US bailout – the COVID-19 relief and economic recovery plan adopted in March – to develop cooling centers in public schools.

Advise local efforts to combat the “urban heat island effect”. Streets and buildings in cities tend to make the extreme heat worse, disproportionately impacting black and Latino neighborhoods. According to a recent EPA report that analyzed 49 cities, “Blacks and African Americans are 40-59% more likely than non-Blacks and non-African Americans to currently live in high-impact areas. . The administration hopes states and cities will use this data and tools suggested in a new Forest Service report, such as tree planting and other natural approaches to greening and cooling, to reduce the severity. urban heat islands.

Biden announces plan to tackle extreme heat caused by climate change

Firefighters work to protect the St. Helena water treatment plant from glass fire in Napa Valley, Calif., In September 2020 (Samuel Corum / AFP via Getty Images)

Calling all experts. The National Integrated Heat Health Information System, an interagency group set up by the White House, monitors and shares data on extreme heat and will hold a meeting in April to propose better measures to deal with it. Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is running prize contests for climate change adaptation ideas, the first of which will focus on extreme heat.

All of these measures, with the exception of planting new trees, only address some of the symptoms of climate change rather than the root cause, which is the increase in atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping gases.

The White House also argues that Congress should adopt the rest of the president’s national agenda, including a variety of proposals to not only adapt to climate change but also reduce it by shifting the country from dependence on climate change. fossil fuels to clean energy sources. like solar and wind.

But with Republicans largely stuck against most White House priorities and moderate Democratic senses. As Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema balk at the price of their party’s budget proposal, it is unclear to what extent Biden’s broader climate agenda will be implemented.


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