Climate Impacts on Minoritized Communities

Hinckley Institute Radio Hour (Original Air Date: October 2, 2019) This week on the program, we air a forum on climate change’s effect on minority communities in the state, the nation and across the world.

Almost two years ago, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report that called for the limiting of average temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius, beyond which even marginal increases to global temperatures would mean a significantly worse and more frequent risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. With average temperatures already one degree hotter than preindustrial levels, the recommended parameters for avoiding a higher than 1.5-degree change are a 45 percent cut in global carbon pollution by 2030.

A number of unfolding natural disasters provide examples that support the report’s dire predictions. This year, California’s unprecedented series of wildfires have burned 1.4 million acres, displaced over 100,000 Californians and killed at least seven people. The fires have been triggered by lightning strikes during a record-breaking heatwave caused by an increasingly hot and dry climate. At the same time, the U.S. Gulf Coast prepares for the landfall of Hurricane Laura as a potential category 3 storm. By tracking data since 1979, researchers have found that climate change is driving tropical storms to rise to category 3 or higher. The destruction caused by these large storms will have disastrous effects for coastal communities and especially those without the resources to weather them.

Speaking on the panel is Daniel Mendoza, Research Assistant Professor in Atmospheric Sciences and Pulmonary Fellow at the School of Medicine at the University of Utah; Olivia Juarez, Latinx Community Organizer for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance; Rebecca Chavez-Houck, former Democratic member of the Utah State House of Representatives; and Sara Grineski, Professor of Sociology and Environmental and Sustainability Studies at the University of Utah. Moderating the discussion is Jenny Huynh, Sustainability Ambassador for the University of Utah’s Sustainability Office.

This forum was recorded on September 25, 2019.

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