Climate Change and Vulnerable Communities — Let’s Talk About This Hot Mess 

In the first episode of this PBS Digital Studios show, we dissect why minorities and disadvantaged people will face bigger consequences in a warming world.

Climate change will impact us all, no matter who we are or where we live. But that doesn’t mean it will hit us equally.

Climate change may not discriminate, but people do.

As a reporter at ProPublica, my focus is on environmental justice, how low-income, underserved and disenfranchised people have been forced to bear an unequal burden of pollution. That’s the same focus I’m bringing as one of the hosts of “Hot Mess” — a PBS Digital Studios YouTube series about the complexities of climate change.

People are the most complex variables in the climate change equation. And my first episode, out today, focuses on the nexus of climate change and environmental justice — and how we need to do a better job connecting the two.

As the effects of climate change intensify, so too will the stark differences in consequences experienced by the privileged and the disadvantaged. So as we see more intense storms and extreme temperatures, it’s important to examine the systemic and structural deficiencies that exacerbate inequity.

It’s why we dug into Houston’s response to Hurricane Harvey, and found that officials botched plans for an organized way to handle natural disasters. It’s why we held FEMA accountable for the anemic response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. It’s why we’re focusing on the rollback of key environmental regulations by the Trump administration, and the people who will be left unprotected.

Not everyone can move away from a floodplain, or a toxic site, or a disaster zone.

It’s important to talk about the choices people make that push the impacts of climate change more heavily onto certain groups.

Help keep this conversation going. How has climate change impacted your community? Email me at talia.buford@propublica.org.

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