People, Planet & Technology #14 – 🔥 The Heat Issue

Hej friends,

long time no see, right? Almost a year after the last issue, comes issue #14 of People, Planet & Technology. There are reasons for this. More on this in the next issue. Under the hood, a lot has happened as well. Besides the visual presentation of the newsletter, it now runs on Substack.

Thats all for now. Lets start with the stuff why you are here…

🔥 H E A T 🔥

This issue`s topic is heat. Why? You have noticed: In the United States and Canada raged a heat dome for days and weeks. This happens when huge areas of sweltering heat are created, trapped under the high pressure "dome". The Washington Post explains in pretty simple language and with great graphics the science of heat domes and how drought and climate change make them worse. And USA Today provide some more numbers and context on the happening heat dome.

🏙 Rethink cities to takkle heat waves

Strong heat challenges us. Younger and older people in particular struggle greatly with the health risks - it is not uncommon for such intense heat to cause loss of lifes. Urban planning has long ignored this risk, which is further intensified by the climate crisis. Vox explains how cities need to be redesigned so that people can withstand extreme heat well in them. Natan Berg criticizes the way the public administration deals with the necessary changes in infrastructure. How are cities in 2121? This question is Grist covering and spoke with 6 experts about climate solutions.

🤬 Social divide amplifies consequences

Trees can lower urban temperatures 10 lifesaving degrees, scientists say. But:

In cities in the USA, lower-income communities and communities of color more often live in neighborhoods with a higher share of concrete surfaces such as roads, buildings and parking lots, and a very limited number of trees and parks.

The New York Times compared different neighborhoods in cities across America and found that there was less green in financially poorer neighborhoods. This can have huge health impacts on residents in these neighborhoods. This is called ‘Tree Equity’ – and there is a great NGO in the USA which is mapping trees in cities to uncover this equity.

👉 If you are interested in the topic of heat, heat islands and cities, I would like to recommend the July issue of National Geographic Magazine. Great reports on this topic. As you would expect from NatGeo...

🚒 Innovative help

Through the Guardian, I came across an exciting app: Cool walks. The experimental app is a kind of navigation system for hot days. It promises to help Barcelona residents find the shadiest route between two places to avoid extreme heat. The app aims to help pedestrians avoid dangerous heat and find public drinking fountains.

Another essential aspect to protect people for extreme weather events: Information. Today, we have more detailed data than ever before. Anyone can check the forecasts for their region every minute or search for cooling locations via Google Maps. The problem is often that data or forecasts that are communicated in warnings do not relate to the person's everyday life. In other words, people ask themselves: "What do these numbers mean for me and my everyday life?". New services are addressing this issue.

Currently is a new service that takes a completely new approach to weather forecasting and has become very popular in the USA at this time of year. The principle is simple: you subscribe to your city in Currently and get a regular newsletter written by a real person. It contains current forecasts explained in a simple way and important information for everyday planning, e.g. where to find cooling centers or at what time it is better not to leave the house. I think it's a great idea and hope that this service will soon be available in Europe.

By the way, Grist follows a similar path with its new newsletter The Burning Issue:

[…] a limited-run weekly newsletter where Grist reporters will examine fire suppression practices, explore the side effects of wildfires, and break down the overall impact of fire season through the course of the summer and fall.

🏖 How to stay cool in heat waves

It is important to cool down properly so that the body is not overheated and health is not damaged. This explains Futurity and Grist adds why air conditioning heats the climate.

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👉 Miscellaneous things

Finally, here are some fascinating drone shots of sheep.
I was absolutely fascinated... 🐑🐑🐑

More sheep? No problem: sheep and more sheep.

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Enjoy the readings,
and thanks for being a part of this. 🙌

Take care.
- Niklas