Climate Can’t Wait
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 5, 2022 – Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light (PA IPL) is launching a new relationship with Juniata Park Academy and the Juniata Park neighborhood. Following up on a day long series of presentations for Earth Day, PA IPL is holding a tree planting event this Thursday, May 5th at the Juniata Park Academy campus of the School District of Philadelphia. Together with residents of the neighborhood we are planting trees and relaunching the vegetable garden to increase the tree canopy and provide fresh air and vegetables to the community. At PA IPL we believe every day is earth day and arbor day and that we have a moral obligation to be stewards of creation and to mitigate the effects of climate change. All of Philadelphia’s residents deserve clean air, access to fresh food, and a safe environment.
The Juniata Park neighborhood, and several surrounding it in North Philadelphia, compose the city’s largest heat sink, an area where urban density, building materials, and a lack of green space or tree canopy result in extreme heat far greater than surrounding neighborhoods and other sections of the city. This is a result of historical inequities based upon redlining and subsequent lack of investments. The significant heat difference results in the increased use of air conditioning, higher electrical use, and higher bills in a region with many lower income households. In addition to the numerous health impacts of heat, summer heat has also been shown to relate to higher crime rates while the absence of sufficient green space contributes to water runoff and flooding, a constant and increasing threat to our region during severe weather events and hurricanes exacerbated by climate change.
As climate change continues to cause more extreme summer temperatures heat related emergencies and deaths will become more common if measures are not taken to mitigate their effect on the community. Previously PA IPL worked together with Philadelphia’s Office of Sustainability, Esperanza, and other partners in the Hunting Park neighborhood on the Beat the Heat Project. This project focused on community listening sessions and the establishment of community cooling stations and kits.
Together with the community we are taking steps to mitigate the effects of extreme heat and climate change built into the inequities of our society. Together we hope to expand these efforts beyond the campus to serve the entire community because climate can’t wait for frontline communities like Juniata Park which are being most immediately, significantly, and directly affected by climate today.