As wind and solar renewable projects across the state hit hurdles, environmental advocates say investing in an underground network of heat pumps is the Big Apple’s best bet at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
“After Hurricane Sandy, my school closed for a week, while whole school student bodies had to be relocated across the city. More recently, my school’s basement and entire first floor flooded the week before school started due to heavy rains.”
Workers, especially people of color and immigrants, are suffering in increasingly hot weather. But some advocates and lawmakers have solutions.
“People are bringing it up, people are talking about it and thinking about what can be done, but I don’t know that that has translated very well into action yet,” said Victoria Sanders, research analyst at the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance. “We really want to see actions starting to play out.”
Extreme heat from climate change has the potential to exacerbate racial disparities in the five boroughs’ maternal health outcomes. Still, climate change and maternal health often remain two separate policy conversations, both locally and nationally.
Citing the impact of climate change, Harlem State Sen. Cordell Cleare is pursuing legislation would make more New Yorkers eligible for the state-run Cooling Assistance Benefit, eliminating a requirement that applicants prove they have a medical condition. “An air conditioner is not a luxury anymore,” she said.
Gathering data from satellites and sensors placed on trees, the network measured temperatures across different types of urban green spaces in 12 U.S. cities, including New York. It found that the air temperature was cooler in forests compared to landscaped trees at over 90 percent of locations.
“It’s an issue that seems to be within DOC’s control, something they can anticipate, and yet they’re really not able to make sure that the conditions are humane for the people that are forced to be there,” one civil rights attorney said.