Newswire: Racial disparities highlighted as October breaks global temperature record

Polar bear surrounded by melting ice flows

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

Weather officials and experts have confirmed that last month was the hottest October ever globally, surpassing pre-industrial averages by a staggering 1.7 degrees Celsius (3.1 degrees Fahrenheit), weather officials confirmed. This milestone marks the fifth consecutive month of record-breaking temperatures, setting the stage for the hottest year ever recorded.
The extent of the temperature surge, which exceeded the previous record set in 2019 by 0.4 degrees Celsius (0.7 degrees Fahrenheit), has astonished experts.
And as extreme weather patterns increasingly become the new normal, it is not surprising to find that African Americans are disproportionately affected. Research from the Gallup Center on Black Voices underscored the disparities in confidence, preparedness, and resource accessibility between racial and ethnic groups. Black and Hispanic Americans report lower levels of confidence in their preparedness and less access to vital resources compared to their white counterparts.
While most respondents across all racial and ethnic groups agree that they have access to reliable weather warnings and someone to call for help during extreme weather events, the margin is narrower for Black and Hispanic Americans. White Americans outpace both groups by approximately ten percentage points on each measure, indicating a higher level of preparedness and ability to recover.
According to Gallup, the most significant divide emerges in the perception of community support during natural disasters or extreme weather events. Compared to white Americans, Hispanic adults lag by 13 percentage points, while Black adults fall behind by 18 points. Relocation statistics, which show that 14% of Black Americans and 11% of Hispanic Americans have relocated, either temporarily or permanently, due to extreme weather events, are further evidence of this disparity.
The climate crisis is exacerbating these disparities, with the Copernicus Climate Change Service noting that a contributing factor is the reduced capacity of oceans to mitigate global warming, which is historically responsible for absorbing up to 90% of excess heat from climate change. This drop in oceanic regulation and El Niño’s effect (a natural climate cycle that raises ocean temperatures temporarily and changes global weather patterns) make it look like more warming is coming in the coming months.
According to Gallup researchers, 2023 has seen a notable increase in unusual weather events like floods, hurricanes, heatwaves, tornadoes, and wildfires. This trend is expected to continue, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicating a high likelihood of an increased frequency and severity of such events in the coming decades.
“2023 has been a notable year for abnormal weather events, which have caused considerable impact to life and property,” Gallup researchers concluded. “According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is very likely that these types of events – floods, hurricanes, heatwaves, tornadoes, wildfires and more – will increase in frequency and/or severity in the coming decades.”