Tuesday, August 15, 2023

"White House to unveil a system for tracking heat-related illnesses nationwide"

From NBC News, August 9:

President Joe Biden is under increasing pressure from lawmakers and state and local officials to do more to address an extreme heat crisis that has defined the summer of 2023.

The Biden administration plans to announce on Wednesday a new federal system to track heat-related illness nationwide and is considering additional measures amid pressure to do more to help Americans deal with crippling summer heat, according to White House officials.

The new national dashboard, which will be overseen by the Health and Human Services Department, maps emergency services responding to heat-related illness calls across the country, officials said. The “EMS HeatTracker” is intended to help ensure sufficient medical aid gets to Americans who need it most during severe heat, officials said.

“Heat is no longer a silent killer. From coast-to-coast, communities are battling to keep people cool, safe and alive due to the growing impacts of the climate crisis,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “President Biden is committed to providing communities with the resources they need to stay safe.”

Federal data shows that millions have experienced unprecedented stretches of record-breaking temperatures, with little respite, making heat waves the largest weather-related killer nationwide.

Biden is under increasing pressure from lawmakers, local and state elected officials and Americans across the country to do more to address an extreme heat crisis that has defined the summer of 2023. The issue has elicited calls from some of the president’s key supporters as he campaigns for reelection — namely climate activists and elected Democrats — to take stronger action, such as formally declaring a climate “emergency.”

While the president hasn’t formally declared a climate emergency, he argued in a recent interview that his administration has “in practice.” “We already done that. Nationally, we’ve conserved more land. We’ve moved into rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. We passed a $360 billion climate control facility,” he said.

White House officials said discussions about possible additional measures are ongoing. For now, they hope Wednesday’s announcement will be welcomed, while acknowledging some limitations the government has when it comes to heat....