it’s part of the story record highA Grist series examines extreme heat and its impact on how – and where – we live.
On Thursday, a huge heat dome covered much of the central United States, from Omaha to New Orleans, causing 143 million people in 19 states Under heat warning.
In Chicago, temperatures on Thursday reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest heat index the city has ever recorded. According to CBS Chicago. Dangerously hot weather hasn’t redeemed Chicago since its infamy 1995 heat wave, which killed more than 500 people in five days. it comes after a record breaking hot day Wednesday at 98 degrees Fahrenheit with a heat index of 116 degrees Fahrenheit.
It feels as though much of the United States has been under a heat advisory at some point this summer Arizona And Texas especially hard hitting. Temperatures breaking records around the world, setting temperature records in July It’s the hottest month the planet has seen in 120,000 years,
The past few days have seen the heat soar into uncharted territory, with places like Lawrence, Kansas, recording temperatures of 134 degrees Fahrenheit earlier this week. An analysis of data from the First Street Foundation, a non-profit research organization, found that the next few decades would see the emergence of an “extreme heat belt” Extends from northern Texas to parts of Illinois and Wisconsin. According to research, by 2053 the temperature in these regions will exceed 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, in some parts of Chicago, the heat is bringing people closer together with neighbors who are taking care of each other and sharing information about water, fans and city cooling centers. this is despite the fact Chilling centers have historically been underutilized,
In Pilsen, a Latino neighborhood on the city’s Near West Side, a bookstore offered its space as an informal cooling center.
Mandy Medley, co-owner of Pilsen Community Books and activist, said providing resources to the city was an intrinsic part of the bookstore’s mission. Some public are toilets and rest area.
“I think it’s a natural extension of the role that we try to play in the community,” Medley said. “We are open to the public, we have one of the very few public toilets available in the neighborhood.”
Medley also noted that the store makes an effort to be open to community members on a regular basis — even when it’s not a record-breaking heat outside.
“Typically, the store is a place people can come to visit, it just doesn’t need to be extreme weather,” Medley said. “We don’t force people to spend money or stay here only for a certain amount of time. It’s really open anytime.”
Elsewhere in Pilsen, Rabbit Scone, with an organizer Rising Tide ChicagoThe organization focused on fighting climate change helped hand out frozen water bottles to homeless people living under highway underpasses.
Rabbit Schoen said, “So the main thing is to get items to the people who live in our neighborhoods and communities who don’t have homes, who are most at risk of heatstroke, or heat exhaustion, or even death from the heat. ” “The easiest way to do that is to give people cold water.”
Additionally, Rising Tide volunteers are working with homeless people to allocate needed resources beyond the heat wave, as people who are homeless are vulnerable to other climate events, like wildfire smokeLong after the heat subsided.
While scientists are hesitant to say whether such individual climate events are linked to climate change, according to Jonathan Patz, professor of health and environment at the university, heat waves in general are much more likely than global warming caused by burning fossil fuels. are correlated. of Wisconsin-Madison.
“The climate crisis that is warming the planet from burning fossil fuels is exactly what you would expect: more frequent and more intense heat waves, Patz said. “You know, all these extremes have been predicted for decades from human-induced climate warming, so we’ve been talking about that for a long time.”
During the scorching heat, a community group called my block my hood my city There were volunteers who were going around the southern and western areas of the city to deliver water bottles and box fans to elderly people in need.
“Our main thing is to take care of people no matter what. And we know that some of the most vulnerable people in our communities are senior citizens. said Stephen Gilbert, director of youth and community development at My Block, My Hood, My City.
The group had about 400 requests for water and fans across the city, which they put all their resources into fulfilling.
Gilbert said, “We don’t have the capacity to release 400 fans and water today alone, we released as many as we could.” “And we’ll be back working there tomorrow.”