🌬 The A/C Only Goes on at Night
7 very short stories of people doing their best to deal with the heatwave
This week, stories I gathered from around the country of those with the least … dealing with the heat. And then, what we can do about it.
Also - you can now listen to my dulcet tones narrating this newsletter. Just click play above. You’re welcome.
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Laiying Yan …
Works 11 hours cooking in an un-air-conditioned restaurant kitchen only to look forward to spending the night in the stifling brick tenement where she lives. If she wakes during the night, she eats from the watermelon next to the door, to try and cool herself (why not water? 🤷🏽♂️).
San Antonio, Texas
“When you are poor, the sun finds you faster”
Juanita Cruz-Perez …
Doesn’t dare turn on the air conditioner during the hottest part of the day. The A.C. is reserved only for the bearable, but still intensely hot, San Antonio night. From blood pressure to diabetes, she has been let down by America’s inadequate health care system and her $800-a-month budget leaves little room for 24-7 A.C. And the low-income area she lives in has been neglected by the city’s arborists leaving no nearby parks with trees or shade.
Nick Bond …
Does not live on the margins, he is squarely middle class (a climatologist in fact). He and his wife, both in their sixties, have been taking refuge at night in the basement of their home in North Seattle. The basement is the coolest part of a house in a neighborhood where air conditioners were never part of home construction and where installing one will cost upwards of $10,000. Last week, the temperature inside their house hit 93 degrees … at 6pm.
Ayub Abdul …
Says, “The homeless person can’t turn on the AC. The only alternative now is the bus in Montgomery County, Maryland. This costs money we don’t have. My question is, what happens when the bus trip ends? We’re riding on the bus, it’s cool, no other place to go. Then the bus driver says, ‘Sir, this is the end of the line.’ They’re let out wherever, and likely far away from where they want to be.
When they get to the end of the line, the trip is over. The homeless person is left on the street.
Wake up, America. End homelessness.”
The Bronx, NY
Jesse Amaro …
And her small daughter stand in line to get into the Crotona Pool in the Bronx. The line stretches around the block with wait times of up to an hour. They’ll get in around 2pm, only to be asked to leave by 3pm, when pools close for an hour for cleaning and staff breaks … at which point they will have to brave the hour-long line a second time.
“We don’t own cars, so we can’t drive to lakes and beaches and stuff.”
Two hours in 100 degree weather with a young child, for an hour in the pool isn’t worth it. Jesse walks back to a home without air conditioning.
Jose Martinez …
And his team work in construction. They are undocumented so their job options are limited. This week their job required them to do heavy construction work in an attic on a day where the temperature hit 105 degrees at 80% humidity … at 11am. The attic was like an oven, with only passive ventilation. They tried to work in fifteen minute shifts, but sometimes the work couldn’t be stopped to accommodate these breaks. At 1:15 am one of the workers fainted. He was taken to a hospital over his objections and returned to work the next day.
Sebastian Francisco Perez …
Was nowhere to be found. It was a record-breaking June day in California’s central valley and the farmland where Sebastian worked was baking to a crisp in the 104-degree heat. When he didn’t appear at the end of his shift, his co-workers went looking for him and found him collapsed between rows of almond trees. He had died of heat-related hypothermia and dehydration. His employer had failed to provide him with the OSHA-mandated information about how to protect himself from the heat.
What we can do
Aside from, you know, halting climate change, some ideas include:
Install cooling systems. The city of Portland is installing cooling systems in the homes of low-income residents.
Appoint a “heat czar” to advocate for and advance policies to protect low-income communities from the heat - literally the hot seat amirite? 🙄
Provide protective gear for those working outdoors. For example, sun-protecting shirts and baseball caps or cooling compresses, kept damp and frozen in a cooler.
Let workers decide on when to make the call to not work in the heat. Everyone’s body responds differently to the heat.
Capture all that solar energy and direct it to the electric grid.
Provide government incentives or encourage private investment in tech like “Cool Pavements” that reflect light and lower urban heat island effects.
🎧 Now Playing on the UnfairNation Podcast
Sharing a job opportunity with the great team at Handoff and ideas42!
✈️ Catch Me If You Can
Texas | Aug. 6-7
Phoenix, AZ | Aug. 8-10
📅 Reading & Watching
You Have the Right to Remain Innocent by James Duane
At a time when Black women were being offered subpar roles on television, Nichelle Nichols was one of the first to play a competent professional in a leading role irrespective of gender or race. After playing Lt. Uhura on Star Trek she joined NASA to recruit women and minorities as astronauts. Unsurprisingly, one year later NASA graduated its first class of female astronauts.
Honorable mention to Bill Russell who also passed this week.
Rest in peace and power.
Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.