Hey y'all — welcome to The Seedling! This is Adam Mahoney again, the environment reporter at Capital B News.
A few months ago, I was in your inbox begging for it to heat up in Los Angeles. That call might've been a bit shortsighted because, in the words of abolitionist scholar and organizer Mariame Kaba, I, too, "dread summer." In her 2015 essay "Summer Heat," Kaba outlines just how deadly the summer heat can be. It's the "season of hyper-surveillance," she writes, where a convergence of racist urban planning, public policy, and climate change make it unnerving to be outside in America's Black and brown neighborhoods.
While her essay is from the perspective of the deadliness of interpersonal and police violence in our communities, it lays the groundwork for the wide-ranging approach that environmental reporting is beginning to take. In these communities, where parks and trees are often nonexistent, there is nowhere to hide — not from the scorching heat or police "jump-outs." As it goes, our communities are also where you're most likely to find people living on the streets facing the most acute impacts of dehydration and heat sickness. But that threat is not only relegated to the unhoused; a recent Vox investigation found that "only a handful of states have any kind of requirements that utilities keep the power on during a heat wave."
The violence of climate change will continue to seep into our lives and alter our labor force, the food we eat, and how we interact. Saying the climate and environment beat is daunting might truly be the biggest understatement of our time. There always seems to be the weight of the world attached to this work, from hurricanes and flooding to the combination of deadly heat and pollution.
I don't know how to lessen that weight. But I do know that if we do this work together, and from the perspectives of the communities we're writing about, with, and for, the work will always be meaningful. As the country, and the world, continues to be engulfed by rising temperatures, I hope we're all able to take the time to stay safe and ready ourselves and each other. It makes the work a lot easier and helps us tell the stories that need to be told. As Kaba writes, "the daily indignities and more invisible harms are ever-present," it just takes us being able to see them and us having the will to address them.