Cooling Centers

Many cities operate “cooling centers” to ensure that the elderly and those who can’t afford air conditioning don’t end up in serious distress. But the people most in need are the hardest to serve:

But people like me, who can pick and choose from among the city’s cooler climes, are not the real targets of these programs. The poor and the elderly are, those people who are most vulnerable to the effects of heat and least able to avoid them. Unfortunately, these people also tend to be the most isolated — least aware of city services and least able to get themselves around the neighborhood. Which is why Eric Klinenberg, the author of “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago,” says it’s not enough for a city to publicize these centers. It must figure out who is most at risk, then reach out to them directly — by phone or even better with free transportation — and get them someplace safe.

Meanwhile, as climate change makes Australia drier the country is launching more desalination plants that gobble tons of energy and exacerbate the underlying problem.