This is The Color of Climate, a weekly column from OneZero exploring how climate change and other environmental issues uniquely impact the future of communities of color.
Nearly 15 years ago, Hurricane Katrina descended on the Gulf Coast and wreaked havoc on millions of people in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Seven years later, Hurricane Sandy tore up the East Coast and flooded New York City. And less than three years ago, Hurricane Harvey displaced 30,000 people in Texas.
These hurricanes became flashpoints for the growing impact of climate change in the United States. Each caused millions of dollars in damage and hundreds of deaths. And crucially, all three had a more severe impact on Latino, Hispanic, and Black communities than on any other racial group.
Climate change has made catastrophic hurricanes more intense, according to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2019, and scientists say they’re only likely to get worse as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise. Meanwhile, Latino, Hispanic, and Black communities have experienced the worst of these impacts firsthand, largely because they are situated in low-lying, coastal areas of the United States. Black people along the Gulf Coast lost their homes, communities, and lives during Hurricane Katrina. The Brooklyn neighborhood Red Hook, which is 85% Black and Hispanic or Latino, was one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. And data shows that Black and Hispanic people in Houston were disproportionately affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Communities of color are also more vulnerable than White ones to sea-level rise, heat waves, and wildfires linked to climate change, according to research published in Geoforum, Climate, and Plos One.
Recently, researchers from the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communications investigated how communities of color feel about climate change. Their analysis, which the university released in April…