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Three Innovative Solutions to Beat the Heat and the Visionaries Behind Them

ByYasmeeta Oon

Jun 26, 2024

Three Innovative Solutions to Beat the Heat and the Visionaries Behind Them

As dangerous heat becomes increasingly unavoidable, a variety of practical innovations are emerging worldwide to protect those most vulnerable to its hazards. Notably, these efforts leverage existing, proven technologies rather than untested innovations. They highlight the urgent need to adapt to new dangers of extreme heat, vividly illustrated in recent weeks as it has caused numerous fatalities among religious pilgrims, tourists, and election workers globally and increased emergency room visits in the United States for heat-related ailments.

According to the World Meteorological Organization, heat now claims more lives than any other extreme-weather hazard. The organization calls for many more “tailored climate products and services” to safeguard public health, including easy-to-use tools for finding help.

Iphigenia Keramitsoglou, an atmospheric physicist specializing in remote-sensing data, has led the development of an innovative app to help people stay cool. Extrema Global provides real-time information about local temperatures, air quality, and color-coded levels of heat risk. By entering a location, users can access a map populated with cooling centers like parks, pools, fountains, and air-conditioned public buildings such as libraries.

The app also offers route suggestions based on the user’s destination, providing options for the fastest route, the coolest route, and the coolest route with rest stops. Extrema Global consolidates various data sources into a single, user-friendly platform.

“What is better than bringing all this information into the hands of people?” Keramitsoglou said in a recent interview, emphasizing the app’s potential to save lives. Launched initially in Athens in 2018, the app has since expanded to Paris, Milan, and Rotterdam. Similar initiatives are underway in other cities, such as Melbourne, which has an app mapping shaded routes, and Barcelona, which offers an app mapping city fountains.

Key Features of Extrema Global:

  • Real-time temperature and air quality updates
  • Heat risk levels
  • Maps of cooling centers
  • Route suggestions (fastest, coolest, coolest with rest stops)
CityLaunch YearFeatures
Athens2018Real-time data, cooling centers, route options
ParisReal-time data, cooling centers, route options
MilanReal-time data, cooling centers, route options
RotterdamReal-time data, cooling centers, route options
MelbourneShaded route maps
BarcelonaCity fountain maps

In Ahmedabad, India, a new insurance program offers financial relief to women like Hansa Ahir, a 55-year-old grandmother and waste recycler. Ahir’s income has been halved due to extreme heat, but a new insurance policy, costing 200 rupees (around $2.40) annually, provides a safety net on dangerously hot days.

Offered by the Self-Employed Women’s Association, the insurance covers income loss due to heat, providing much-needed support for workers like Ahir. The program, pitched by climate finance expert Kathy Baughman McLeod, covers 50,000 members, including market vendors, subsistence farmers, and waste recyclers.

“When temperatures are projected to reach danger levels, Ahir receives warning messages on her cellphone. When temperatures reach that threshold, insurance payments are triggered,” Baughman McLeod explained. This innovative insurance model showcases the need for faith in new solutions to address the growing hazards of extreme heat.

Insurance Program Highlights:

  • Covers income loss due to extreme heat
  • Affordable premiums (200 rupees/year)
  • Warning messages and automated payouts
  • Pilot program expanded to 50,000 members

Edgar Franks, once a farmworker himself, now advocates for farmworker health protections in Washington state. Under new state rules, when temperatures reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit, farmworkers are entitled to shade, water, and paid breaks. This legislation aims to protect outdoor workers from the hazards of extreme heat and wildfire smoke.

Washington is one of only five states in the U.S. with such protections, contrasting sharply with recent rollbacks in Texas and Florida, where state laws now prohibit local ordinances mandating water and rest breaks for outdoor workers on excessively hot days.

The International Labor Organization identifies outdoor workers in agriculture and construction as among the most vulnerable to heat hazards, with an estimated 2.4 billion workers at risk worldwide.

Washington State Protections:

  • Right to shade, water, and paid breaks at 80°F
  • One of five states with outdoor worker protection rules
  • Contrast with rollbacks in Texas and Florida

Key Points on Heat Hazards:

  • Heat now kills more people than any other extreme-weather hazard.
  • Practical innovations can significantly reduce heat-related health risks.
  • Consolidating existing data into user-friendly tools is crucial.
  • Innovative insurance models can provide financial relief for vulnerable workers.
  • Legal protections are essential to safeguard outdoor workers’ health.

These initiatives underscore the critical need for practical, implementable solutions to combat the increasing threat of extreme heat. By leveraging existing technologies, offering financial safety nets, and enacting protective legislation, communities can better adapt to and mitigate the dangers posed by rising temperatures. As climate change continues to challenge traditional ways of living and working, such innovations will be indispensable in ensuring the health and safety of the global population.

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Featured Image courtesy of DALL-E by ChatGPT

Yasmeeta Oon

Just a girl trying to break into the world of journalism, constantly on the hunt for the next big story to share.

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