The Heat Wave Crisis

Max Cauchi, Staff Writer

There have been many heatwaves happening around the world that are breaking records this summer. All this newfound heat has caused lots of changes around the world. In Europe the heat waves affected tourism as the heat changed many travel-plans. This comes after COVID, which has already hurt the tourism industry.  The New York Times states, “After more than two years of putting off their vacations, travelers are loath to cancel their trips, even in the face of headline-making weather.” Also, train tracks overheat when facing excessive heat causing many delays or cancellations and further hindering the ability for travel through Europe. The lack of tourism negatively effects the economy while the heat damages European ability to move around their respective countries. Elevated temperatures have also caused many natural disasters; these catastrophes have further ruined the economy and risked the safety of the people. These natural disasters have consisted of many severe droughts around the world which have limited some countries’ water supply and according to NASA, “In Western Europe, which was already experiencing severe drought, the heatwave fueled fires that raged across Portugal, Spain, and parts of France.” These fires resulted in many people forced to evacuate their homes and tireless work hours for the firemen combating the fire as it continued to consume more land.

The reason there have been so many record-breaking heatwaves these recent years is because of the increase in temperature from climate change. Climate change has been a significant factor in the increase of heat waves’ intensity compared to years in the mid-1900s and even the early 2000s. The United States Environmental Protection Agency states (EPA) “During the 1960s, the average heat wave across the 50 cities… was 2.0°F above the local 85th percentile threshold. During the 2020s, the average heat wave has been 2.3°F above the local threshold.” Not only has the intensity of the heat increased, but also the average number of heatwaves per year has almost tripled since the 1960s. This jump of intensity could also be the reason that cooling is still not accessible, the sudden increase in the temperature has not given enough time to prepare for the heat.

Intense heat waves have also been affecting students’ learning capabilities and test scores. According to Harvard Kennedy School, “On average, student achievement fell by the equivalent of 1 percent of a year’s worth of learning for each additional degree Fahrenheit in temperature during the year preceding the exam.” This suggests that the increase in heat may have impacts on homework, because it raises the difficulty of your work. This makes it harder to learn material as heat deteriorates focus, for example: during tests when the heat is too high. Junior Rebecca Lowder says, “I have a harder time focusing when I am hot.” You might think that air conditioning could solve this problem, but many low-income areas cannot afford the luxury of a cool house or school. This impacts daily functions. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), “Excessively high or low ambient temperature (Ta) may affect sleep even in healthy humans without insomnia. Furthermore, disturbed nocturnal sleep affects not only daytime activities, but is also related to various adverse health effects.” The lack of sleep can then harm your concentration. Freshman Zeeshan Masood says, “The heat can affect my sleep which would affect my learning throughout the day.”

Harvard Kennedy School has also stated that “Racial minorities and low-income students seem to be affected much more negatively [by the heat].” The cooling crisis is a significant factor in the learning of low-income and racial minority students. This makes the need for air conditioning even greater, the lack of access to proper cooling then disproportionally impacts these groups’ learning capabilities, leading to a loop of poverty as the amount of education needed to succeed in life Is not met. The effect the feverish temperature has on students without cooling on their education is shown with Senior Tyler Innes who says, “if my room is really hot, I am not going to want to go in there and study.” With all the heat and lack of sleep, energy is super important, but even our motivation is at stake from the extreme weather. Sophomore Salloni Kapoor believes that “If it is really hot outside, it takes the energy out of you, and makes you less motivated.” The significance of air conditioning on low-income and minority groups is not a topic of discussion on improving overall intellect and should be a major factor in helping them. Air conditioning can solve the problem of high temperatures, but it is expensive and is lacking in low-income areas and racial minorities. It is essential to make cooling accessible to everyone in order to save students from the heat.