As most of California endures near-record high temperatures this week, it seems like an appropriate time to discuss the intersection of the state’s historic drought, climate, and equity. A new report from Wendy Ortiz at the Center for American Progress, Lessons on Climate Change and Poverty from the California Drought, makes these connections and shows that low-income areas and communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the ongoing drought and climate change in general.
In her report, Ortiz summarizes the inequities faced by communities of color and low-income people and discovers that climate change serves as an escalating factor for these conditions:
The enduring effects of racial segregation and the underinvestment in low-income communities — in California and elsewhere — have placed people of color and low-income people in environments that threaten their physical and emotional health. Low-income communities and communities of color are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to poor-quality housing and infrastructure, proximity to environmental hazards, and economic instability. Because these communities have been institutionally excluded from accruing wealth and assets — which are prominent indicators of a family’s ability to prepare for unexpected shocks — they are less able to survive and recover from disastrous events.