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Blue Dot 205: Climate Extremes: Texas Freeze And Urban Heat


Dave investigates two very different but interrelated topics: the deep freeze that sent the power grid in Texas into near collapse and how our cities are disproportionately hot in summer due to the urban heat island effect.

Both stories involve how the most vulnerable populations tend to take the brunt of climate change extremes. In Texas, dozens died trying to stay warm while in our western cities, black and LatinX suffer in summer when their neighborhoods are measurably hotter than more affluent neighborhoods.

Dave is joined by Pulitzer Prize winner Wiliam Englund from the Washington Post to talk about the frozen grid in Texas as well as bigger picture implications for our increasingly vulnerable power infrastructure. Then UC Davis researchers Stephen Miller and Jake Dilsandro share their study of how the urban heat island effect disproportionately affects minority residents in western US cities.

Dave Schlom has taught the physical sciences at Corning Union High School since 1991. A lifelong amateur astronomer and astronomy educator, he has a passion for both the earth and the space sciences, which are the principal areas of focus for guests on Blue Dot. He started doing radio interviews on space and astronomy topics for local stations like KFM and KPAY in the 1980s and into the 90s, where he was a popular go-to guest for local radio personalities. He is also an expert on the history and geology of Lassen Volcanic National Park, where he has served as a volunteer for decades. Dave enjoys a quiet life at home with his partner in life, Cheryl, and their two dogs, Elvis and Pearl, at their Red Bluff residence.
Matt Fidler is a producer and sound designer with over 15 years’ experience producing nationally distributed public radio programs. He has worked for shows such as Freakonomics Radio, Selected Shorts, Studio 360, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Takeaway. In 2017, Matt launched the language podcast Very Bad Words, hitting the #28 spot in the iTunes podcast charts.