Reverend Vernon Kerri Walker, Jr., (STH’16) in The Guardian on Climate Change

This was originally published by The Guardian on December 8, 2022 and can be found here.


Excerpt from the article:

“Being socially isolated while trying to deal with an extreme weather event can be deadly, particularly for those who are more susceptible to dying from extreme weather,” said the Rev Vernon Walker, a co-author of the study and program director of Communities Responding to Extreme Weather (Crew), which co-published the report.

He referenced a study by the sociologist Eric Klinenberg on the 1995 Chicago heatwave that killed 739 people over five days; Klinenberg found that social isolation contributed to the death toll.

“For [Crew], it makes sense to help build social infrastructure in a community [to] increase the likelihood of people surviving during these extreme weather events,” Walker said. During a heatwave, that social infrastructure might look like neighbors calling and checking in on the most vulnerable in their communities – often the elderly or disabled – and asking if they need a ride to a cooling center, he said.

To that end, Crew hosts community workshops on topics like preparing for extreme heat, where volunteers hand out cooling kits with water and cooling patches. But most importantly, it’s a way to bring people together, Vernon said.

“What we mean by social connectedness is allowing people to get to know each other that might not have known each other, and also fostering that spirit of collaboration,” Walker said. “So when the storms come, and the heatwaves happen, and the rain descends, people are looking out for each other.”


Read the full article here.