Sweltering schools, a grim climate report and the Administration acts
Climate, Health and Equity Brief

Sweltering schools, a grim climate report and the Administration acts

The Climate, Health & Equity Brief is GMMB’s take on the last two weeks’ news on the current impacts of climate change. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so by clicking here.

Hot Topic: Cruel, cruel summer. Canadian wildfires, Alaskan glacier-melt floods and a rare tropical storm in California are just a few of the climate-fueled challenges the world has faced this summer, the hottest ever recorded. Yet scientists believe 2023 will be one of the cooler summers this century as greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase and global heating reaches new extremes.

And increasingly, excessive summer heat is now extending into fall. Tens of millions of Americans experienced a sweltering start to September, with temperatures still breaking record highs in the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, and Southwest. Students back in school in at least five states were dismissed early this week to get home before temperatures peaked, and in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, students were told to stay home altogether and attend class virtually. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that 41% of U.S. school districts need to update or replace the HVAC systems in at least half of their schools—a massive and costly infrastructure challenge.

The need for climate adaptation has never been more apparent, and that reality is sinking in for more and more Americans. A new Ipsos poll found that nearly a quarter of Americans believe climate change will make it more difficult to stay where they live. Another study from Yale found that climate distress is growing among Americans, and those who report feeling that climate change is an “urgent threat” has more than doubled in the last decade.

Unfortunately, a new global scorecard released this week found that eight years after approval of the Paris Agreement, countries have made only limited progress in staving off climate change—and not enough to limit global temperature increases to 2°C, the point at which scientists say cascading climate impacts will markedly intensify.

Thankfully, there is promising news this week in U.S. climate action. The Biden administration announced plans to cancel Trump-era oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to forbid new leases on more than 10 million acres in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, and to allocate $12 billion in loans and grants for automakers to convert their factories to EV plants—all major steps in the right direction for a very necessary shift away from fossil fuels.

Human Health

The consequences of extreme heat on the human body include physical issues such as heatstroke, dehydration, cardiovascular stress, respiratory problems, organ damage, and skin conditions, mental health issues such as anxiety, anger, and sleep disturbances, and an increased risk of violent crime, suicide attempts, and overdose deaths—underscoring the urgent need for proactive measures to mitigate these risks. (The New Yorker)

As summer heat waves extend further into fall and the school year, schools along the East Coast and in parts of the Midwest are facing classroom temperatures as high as 90 degrees, requiring them to adjust schedules, cancel classes and grapple with how to update their infrastructure for sufficient and efficient air conditioning. (NPR, The Boston Globe)

A new analysis outlines how Pakistan has become the epicenter of a global wave of climate health threats as hotter temperatures fuel extreme heat and flooding in the country, leading to swifter passages for pathogens and toxins and leaving 40 million people vulnerable to dangerous heat for more than half the year. (The Washington Post)

Hong Kong is experiencing recording breaking rainfall—6.2 inches recorded in one hour, its highest hourly rainfall since recording began in 1884—that is paralyzing the city as flash floods transform streets into surging torrents, submerge metro stations and trap drivers on roads. (CNN)

Planetary Health

The first official report card from the Paris Agreement shows that while many countries have lowered their emissions, progress to date is not enough to curb a 2°C rise in global temperatures, which scientists predict will lead to unmanageable levels of flooding, wildfires, drought, species extinction, and more. (The New York Times)

Experts say that summer 2023, the hottest on record, will likely be one of the cooler summers this century as greenhouse gas emissions soar and global temperatures continue to rise. (The Guardian)

Warming North Atlantic Ocean temperatures are forcing endangered sea turtles to migrate in search of better food and breeding grounds, placing them in the crosshairs of fishing gear entanglements, plastic pollution, habitat loss and vessel strikes. (Inside Climate News)


At the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, Kenyan President William Ruto announced that a total of $23 billion had been pledged to green projects by governments, investors, development banks and philanthropists, as leaders highlighted the unfair climate burden their countries must bear as the continent faces 15% reductions in GDP growth each year due to climate impacts. (CNN, Reuters, AP News)

Politics & Economy

As extreme weather becomes more common globally, conspiracy theorists—including some politicians and elected leaders—are increasingly attributing climate events to global hoaxes, with unfounded and false claims often starting with blog posts paid for by the oil and gas industry. (The New York Times)

As natural disasters and extreme weather events continue across the United States, even more major insurers—including American Family, Erie Insurance Group, and Berkshire Hathaway—have stopped providing coverage in disaster regions and are raising monthly premiums and deductibles. (The Washington Post)

Last year, subsidies for coal, oil, and natural gas reached a record high of $7 trillion – around $13 million per minute, and the world’s corporations produce so much climate change pollution it would eat up 44% of their profits if they had to pay damages for it, according to a study by economists at nearly 15,000 public companies. (Grist)

Florida governor and presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis has declined federal climate funding for his climate-besieged state, passing up $350 million for an energy-efficient appliance rebate program, $3 million to help fight pollution, $24 million in grants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—and he rebuffed the Solar for All program which would have paid to help low-income people access solar panels. (The New Republic and POLITICO)


The Biden administration announced plans to cancel oil and gas leases issued by the Trump administration in a 19.6 million-acre federal wildlife refuge and forbid new leasing on more than 10 million acres in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska. (Reuters)

The Biden Administration announced the allocation of $12 billion for automakers to retrofit their facilities to make electric vehicles and hybrids, plus an additional $3.5 billion in financing to expand domestic battery manufacturing for vehicles and the power grid. (Bloomberg)

The Biden Administration announced an allocation of nearly $3 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure bill to help American communities prepare for climate-related events. (Axios)

A U.N. panel of experts endorsed the right of children to sue their governments for failing to protect them from climate impacts, stating that nations have a legal duty to shield children from environmental degradation. (The New York Times)

Life as We Know It

new poll found that 23% of Americans believe it will get more difficult to stay in the area they currently live in due to climate change, and 55% of Americans said they’ve grown somewhat more or significantly more concerned about the effects of climate change in the past few years. (The Hill)

Monsoon rains at this year’s Burning Man Festival flooded camps, trapped attendees, forced some to walk out and abandon their cars and belongings, and left many experts saying the festival may need to move due to the increasingly extreme weather and unsuitable conditions in the Black Rock Desert. (WIRED)

Some of the largest theme parks in the U.S. have experienced attendance disruptions and closures from extreme weather and have been forced to change weather guarantee policies, build more indoor and air-conditioned rides and restaurants, and use more steel in designs to improve durability. (CNN)

The Universal Hip Hop Museum, set to open in 2025, will preserve the genre’s legacy and highlight its often unnoticed role in advocating for climate solutions, tracing back to South Bronx’s environmental challenges and Hurricane Katrina’s impact, and ongoing climate justice activism within the hip hop community. (Grist)


As hurricane season continues to ramp up, check out this helpful interactive guide that provides essential safety measures to keep your family, home and pets safe.

Nobody intelligent can deny the impact of the climate crisis anymore.”

– President Joe Biden

The GMMB Climate, Health & Equity Brief would not be possible without the contributions of the larger GMMB team—Thomas Baer, Aaron Benavides, Stefana Hendronetto, Nikki Melamed, Sharde Olabanji and Marci Welford. Feedback on the Brief is welcome and encouraged and should be sent to CHandEBrief@gmmb.com.