Just days after Hurricane Ida destroyed the homes of low-income and Black residents in Louisiana and Mississippi, a recent report was released that reveals racial minorities in the United States will bear a disproportionate burden of the negative health and environmental impacts from a warming planet, the Environmental Protection Agency announced. In addition, these communities will experience more deaths from extreme heat and property loss from flooding in the wake of sea-level rise.

If the planet warms just two degrees Celsius, the new report warns, Black people are 40 percent more likely than other groups to live in places where extreme temperatures will cause more deaths. African Americans are also 34 percent more likely to live in areas where childhood asthma cases are likely to be worsened by climate change. Nearly all U.S. counties are suffering economically from extreme heat, with labor-productivity losses expected to cost $500 billion annually by 2050, disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic workers. Extreme heat will also claim nearly 60,000 lives a year by 2050.

Helping Fight Climate Change

This report shows that the effects of climate change on the Black community call for our immediate attention, for our own survival. It may seem like a daunting task, but we are not powerless against alleviating the effects of climate change. Here are some key things you can do on the community level to help.

  • Start a conversation about climate change with friends and family.
  • Cut your personal consumption of climate-killing foods and products. Eating a plant-based diet more often is a very powerful way to influence climate. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, livestock are responsible for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Cattle represent 65% of the emissions caused by all livestock. Drive or fly less and drive fuel-efficient cars. Consider switching to an affordable renewable-oriented electricity plan, improving insulation and windows to make your home more climate-smart.
  • Vote and elect those candidates who support the fight in saving the environment. Become familiar with legislative efforts on climate change and join local groups that are working on those issues.
  • Lastly, teach the young people in your life about the value of the earth by leading by example.
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