'It’s not too late': Confronting extreme heat in American cities

ABC’s Ginger Zee reports on the connection between extreme heat and racism in U.S. cities.
9:59 | 07/24/20

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Transcript for 'It’s not too late': Confronting extreme heat in American cities
Scorching temperatures. Often have a greater impact on minority communities on fortunately there are some of the same areas that are still feeling the brunt of the corona virus. In this week's it's not too late are ginger is he explains how some cities are already taking matters into their own hands to confront that heat. Head on. A. Hi I'm in Disney. It's not too late. Heat kills I now that's not breaking news is also not breaking man's Tony twentieth the second hottest year today. But this year and the heat is different because it's coming along with a global pandemic. I mean Santa Clara California older folks are saying they just too afraid to go to the cooling centers. In Springfield Illinois and cooling centers were even open because the virus. Philadelphia declared their first heat health emergency to point funny while in their second official heat wave. And this really the hottest hand here thanks jet stream and sun angle. But even a pandemic that parts not a surprise. What may surprise you is how disproportionate. Heat can be when it comes to race. And that's the topic I want to target. So let's start a picture. He is the number one weather killer worldwide news and even in recent history at least you crazy unbelievable events. You like the 1980 he'd leave that killed at least 12100 people in the US. The heat wave continues in Texas Texas is one of the six heat stricken state citizens receive emergency funds from Washington. Agencies in Texas Missouri Arkansas Oklahoma Louisiana and pandas are all going to distribute the money to those unfortunate people whose existence is being run by the heat. Then there was the Chicago heat wave of 1995. At least 700 people died. City phone banks are now in full operation with a special emphasis on senior citizens and their need. Yeah. And the European heat may 200370000. Victims. 70000. We're not talking about some eighteen hundreds there's no technology history. Does less than twenty years ago and tens of thousands of people died from heat. In the last thirty years heats by far still the number one killer in the United States but. Let's zero in on heat in the last two decades in our country. The CDC did a study 2004 to 2018 and then they found an average of 700 people dying from heat related illness means hear news 90% of the deaths happen between may and September which makes sense. Will mostly in Arizona California and Texas that also makes sense. Different it's interesting to 70% of the deaths were men mostly 65 years or older and wall more than half of the deaths were white people. Indigenous and black people who had the highest rate of deaths from heat now we know that poverty matches these charts the highest rates of poverty poor black and indigenous people. I want you see is some of these maps that were released by NASA and the US Census Bureau and 2019 because it really puts it all together we can directly really heat to poverty. So let's start with Minneapolis unless you're gonna see the darker red area is Phyllis tell us which neighborhoods are hot and on the right. Which neighborhoods are porous. Dark green course I was living money. That light red means it's cool seeking clearly seen there is a connection between poverty and heat even in one city. And not just in Minneapolis. Baltimore Maryland. Oakland California. Lexington Kentucky Toledo Ohio. I could go on because dozens of our nation's most populated cities are hotter where they are poor and Richmond Virginia is no different and they know it. There's sustainability office can even show how bad line neighborhoods are five degrees warmer on average team and non red hot neighborhoods and just as a reminder because redlining is kind of an an is that redlining started back in the 1930s it was when the government he. Designated certain neighborhoods Lofton predominantly black or brown communities do. With red lines and that meant that they were too risky for investment and which then let the banks and insurance companies denying those those home loans and insurance. Doctor Jerry Hoffman chief scientist for the Virginia Museum of Science he says in the linger heat race isn't direct descendant of redlining. You're able to get used that workers at its east redlining by the news in the 1930s forties now it is it's seen where. Only by one neighborhoods are warmer when they're not let. Why aren't you want. It to thirteen. Yes we shall see what it's up just in various sixteen degrees from the coolest and warmest place during yeah. The reason. Less green space and more asphalt which. Pavement especially when it's dark. Absorbs heat and cold that it's called he'll be gone back to studying meteorology here trees while Pratt says well they absorb Bernanke last eaten. Don't these people these communities six rigs rigs are rebels heat potentially stronger left. Slugging list that also Kenya is thousands higher levels only a matter then. Mom and related pollution and exacerbates. Gardens resident Bernie a mob and other over the leading builders. Illnesses like Coke in nineteen another resident in the people really had hopes that the heated summer would kill the corona virus. We know now that it's not true not only is it not true but they seem to do yearly well together. Right now let's hottest from California Florida and those of the same places that are seeing culvert outbreaks in record number of new infections. And we know this till black folks have three times more mortality than white folks that the corona virus summer concerned that the people that are happy to choose between their energy bill. And being safe from code that nineteen are mostly black income communities there. At higher exposure based on the type of jobs that a lot of people in this population have the essential workers public transit. Food services I mean you name it. Most people getting the corona virus are the people that have to work. They are the people that have to take public transportation. The same people without access outdoor space for a cool place to sleep. What we found Lance. Ares I mean and that's similarities have where. People in our community land. And I very similar out of maps and terms of pulling up a map. Vulnerability you are urban he islands and vulnerability T covad nineteen. And the maps and push claim look very similar. I'm and not because a lot of that factors that risk factors. Similar. Let's not forget. He is cumulative so our bodies yet we could handle one or two days at a hundred with a heat index of one tangle when it doesn't cool down at night. Ford goes on for a long period of time. The function of our body is just not as good. In many cases being in a city means that you are even hotter at night. See at night at city of more than one million people can be of much as 22 degrees warmer than its surroundings even in buildings and tells can hold on the heat. An increasing overnight lows are trademark of climate change. And the World Health Organization is saying that the number of people that have been exposed to heat waves in the last two decades not only increased by at least a 125 million they say. It's going to get worse as we keep warm. A lot of global warming Convis. As temperatures rise we're gonna see more heat waves and hence more heat. Absolutely true. We're also going to be much richer and we're actually gonna buy a lot more air conditioning. You're no longer doesn't buy that increasing heat death story he also says that cooled kills way more. He is number one killer say. Cold actually kills a lot more people this does not mean. The heat is not a problem which is give you some portion of the study from one recently published out across a wide range and nations shows at about 101000 people by each year from. Heat in the US and about a 171000. People arrived from cold. UN says that our money should be spent on fixing the temperature problems both cold and hot. Now instead of the century from now. I'm a Luke complex when people look. Where people. We're suffering through a heat wave and say we should help them by cutting carbon emissions Turks and remember it won't help pour actually ill. A lot of the pork because they have they're the ones who spend the biggest fraction of their income on energy it's going to be more costly. What you do meet this should dramatically increase investment. Research and development of green energy this does not mean we shouldn't also think about fixing climate change long run. We should be recognizing. That if we want to help people now in the next couple decades from heat. This is not about global warming policy this is about week. Adaptation and let you learn things we'll have to happen and Ed hardy it is in Richmond. Just releases included our own small little hearts and public private partnership. And so we're working on the scale that into more neighborhoods around the city. Com including and it a recipes that sex in. You know engaging with the private. Other. And in implementing our sinus lower costs are really hot and I. Like how Jeremy put it instead of a silver bullet this is going to be more like a silver buckshot. We have to fix this problem in a lot of ways we have to find racial justice. Eden when it comes to he. I'm to dizzy and I promise it's not teammates. And a big thanks to large in Jersey.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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