Heat Waves Rock the US and Biden’s Popularity

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Children playing in Portland, Oregon, U.S. as heatwaves rock the country (Image Credit: Reuters)

This summer has seen an endless surge of heat waves ravaging the US. The focus of the heat waves remains on Texas, in addition to parts of Washington State, California, and Oregon. On August 17th, temperatures peaked at 109 degrees in Dallas, surpassing a record temperature of 107 degrees set in 1951. And just when the world thought temperatures couldn’t soar higher, San Antonio reached a record-breaking high of 117 degrees. CNN reports that extreme heat in the US has killed at least 147 people, with 312 deaths still under investigation for their potential correlation with heat.

With the onset of this heat crisis, some political officials have made strides to advocate for worker protection. Texas Congressman Greg Casar organized a food and water strike to challenge a Texas law neglecting outdoor worker protection amidst intense heat. He cited the case of a postal worker who died on his route and another worker in Texas’ Harrison County who died of heat exhaustion while attempting to fix a power line.

At a White House Press Conference, President Joe Biden announced measures to combat heat extremes, which he called “the No. 1 weather-related killer”. Biden stated that the Labor Department would issue the first-ever heat hazard alert that would dispense information on what employers “can and should be doing now to protect their workers.” Furthermore, the Labor Department will also increase inspections to spot more heat safety in high-risk industries such as agriculture and construction. 

While Biden did not declare a climate emergency, he did reiterate his administration’s commitment to the Inflation Reduction Act, which contains nearly $370 billion in tax credits to ramp up wind and solar power production as well as incentives for purchases of vehicles and appliances with sustainable energy sources.Biden has received some criticism for not being aggressive enough with his policies.

“Real relief won’t come until Biden confronts the culprit of deadly fossil fuels.”

Said Jean Su, director of energy justice at the Center for Biological Diversity. She stated that the new announcements of climate reform seemed incremental. 

One subway cleaning worker told the BBC that the heat waves make

“it [feel] like the world is ending. It’s horrible, it’s torturous. I try to take cooling and water breaks when I can.”

Only time will tell whether Biden’s plan to combat extreme heat will see improvements in worker productivity and reductions in death.

Written by Jia Dunsby

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