By: Sofia Wren ’25
As summer went by, many noticed the high, never-ending temperatures that Texas experienced. Dallas temperatures reached a record high of 110 degrees, beating the city’s record of 106 in 2011. North Texas has recorded over 44 days of over-100 temperatures.
Although this weather may seem exclusive to Texas, other states including California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, and Kentucky are also being affected by the excessive heat. Mexican regions Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, and Coahuila are experiencing similar situations.
These temperatures are clear evidence of a climate crisis, as there has been an increase in greenhouse gasses for the past 150 years.
Although this issue can be controversial, it is without a doubt that many are being seriously affected by the heat.
Locally, a mail carrier died while on his usual Lakewood route. A worker of USPS since 1987, Eugene Gates was a beloved member of his community. This tragedy validates many concerns on the conditions for these workers.
The day of Eugene’s death, the heat index was above 110 degrees. Gates’ wife, Carla Gates, is eager for answers and an investigation into her husband’s death. His postal office is now allowing mail carriers to start their days an hour earlier on days with high temperatures.
But many would agree that this small change is not enough. Measures need to be placed to ensure these tragedies do not happen again. At least 431 work-related deaths from heat exposure have been recorded since 2011.
In the San Antonio, Texas area, 24-year-old construction worker Gabriel Infante died of heat stroke after he was in a state of delirium on his fifth day on the job installing fiber optic cables. His co-workers and supervisors initially thought that he was under the influence of drugs, as they called the police on Gabriel and demanded that he be drug tested.
However, their opinion of Gabriel’s involvement with drugs blindsided them from seeing that Gabriel was dying of heat exhaustion. Gabriel’s mother filed a lawsuit against his company for $1million in damages, days after Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2127 into law that states construction workers are not allowed mandatory water breaks every four hours and time to rest in the shade.
The Houston government has filed a lawsuit against this bill by declaring it “unconstitutional.” Mayor Sylvester Turner stated that “Houston will fight so the residents keep their constitutional rights and have immediate local recourse to the government.” Cooling vests for heat relief have become increasingly popular among workers in the United States.
Issues of heat have not remained exclusive to the United States. There are areas all over the world that are suffering from excessive heat. The World Health Organization is advocating for world leaders to act on climate change.
Even though this topic is controversial, there are many losing their lives to the heat worldwide. An anticyclone in Northern Africa has pushed high temperatures into Italy, Spain and Greece. Greek authorities have shut down the Acropolis and other tourist sites every day from noon to 5p.m. as a concern for the public’s safety.
Italy has advised their residents to stay out of direct sunlight from 11a.m. to 6p.m. The heat in these areas of Southern Europe has also sparked wildfires.
Climate scientists have claimed that August 2023 has likely been the hottest month the earth has lived in 120,000 years. Areas of Africa and the Middle East are hitting scorching temperatures of around 120F degrees.
Hopefully, world leaders will see the number of those affected by this weather and act now. In the meantime, communities can ensure measures to make sure everyone stays safe and advocate to the world leaders for change.