Call for Policy Ideas to Tackle the Extreme Heat Crisis
This summer, 130 million Americans have been placed under some type of heat advisory. National records for heat continue to be shattered each month, with July 2023 estimated to be the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. Even though extreme heat is the number one weather-related killer of Americans, it receives minimal targeted federal support and funding for planning, mitigation, and recovery. State and local leaders across the country have been rapidly responding to the consequences of extreme heat with no comprehensive playbook for an effective response.
There is a need to build resilience to the heat waves yet to come. Our national response to extreme heat is still actively being developed and can be bolstered by increased federal action across the White House, Congress, and federal agencies. To ensure a rapid, equitable response to extreme heat for all Americans, high-quality policy ideas ready for action are in hot demand.
Ideas for heat policy that are innovative, ambitious, and actionable. At this time, we are not looking for ideas for state and local policies, although we welcome ideas to better coordinate the state and local response from a federal level. Your recommendations should focus on one of the following topics:
- Infrastructure. Extreme heat presents multiple challenges to our current infrastructure. How can we leverage infrastructure policy, practices, and funding resources to combat extreme heat?
- Workforce. Rising temperatures place many members of the workforce, such as farmworkers and construction workers, at increased risk for heat-related illnesses and contribute to rising productivity losses for businesses. A trained workforce for extreme heat response and preparation is also needed. How can the federal government protect the current workforce and gear up for future talent needs?
- Public Health. Exposure to extreme heat can cause multiple heat-related illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Yet many health providers and public health practitioners are not trained to respond to heat emergencies and heat-exacerbated public health challenges like pathogen spread. How can federal policy be prepared for all the public-health hazards of a warming climate?
- Food Security. Extreme heat and its exacerbation of other natural hazards, including droughts, can have a significant impact on our agricultural productivity and food security. How can the United States Department of Agriculture utilize its growing portfolio of climate-smart investments and R&D to build resilience to extreme heat?
- Planning and Response. Despite its immense impacts, extreme heat is not currently considered a hazard that can trigger a federal emergency declaration under the Stafford Act. Further, many states and local jurisdictions fail to plan for heat as a part of their Hazard Mitigation Plans. Further, as many places heat up, questions arise about how long people will be able to safely inhabit the southern parts of the United States. How can the federal government better coordinate response to extreme heat as well as incentivize uptake of heat-planning around the country?
- Data and Indices. While heat blankets entire regions, its impacts are not felt equitably across the population. Urban Heat Island effects can make parts of cities far hotter – thus worsening the disaster for people residing in these zones. Further, there is a lack of consensus over how to name, categorize, and communicate the severity of extreme heat events. How can the federal government improve data and technology tools to track extreme heat events as well as understand how to account for heat wave severity?
- Submit the online application and answer all required questions.
- You submit an idea that matches one or more of the relevant prompts (above). Submissions should be no more than 350 words and should include a clear plan of action in their recommendations.
- Authors with promising ideas will be invited to convert them into full Day One Project memos and socialize them with key government stakeholders, as appropriate.
- All submissions will be considered for a portfolio of heat policy recommendations to be synthesized by March 2024.
FAS and partners will synthesize recommendations with contributors and collaboratively provide inputs to the policy leaders working with and within the White House, Congress, and federal agencies on ways to strengthen federal responses to the building extreme heat crisis.