While deaths during heat waves seem understandable, a red flag should have been set when high mortality rates were evident in Chicago’s 1995 summer heat wave. It is a shame that deaths through preventable causes are only made aware after the lost of hundreds of innocent lives. Scientific studies during the aftermath of the heat wave showed that the weather was not sole attributing factor to the deaths of many. The causes include the climate as well as the living conditions many individuals had to deal with. Klinenberg argues that “in 1995, the city’s climatic, sociospatial, and political conditions were all extreme: not only was the weather unprecedentedly severe, in addition the advancing state of poverty and the inadequacy of the state’s response created an unusually deadly crisis” (242). The geography of urban vulnerability goes to show how social organization is controlled by economic and political powers. In this particular case, the community that was affected more severely than others revolved around African Americans populations whom lived in close proximity to dangerous environments, unsanitary conditions, and unsafe water sources.
The deprived community were not given adequate amounts of water access and suffered through violent struggles. The link between poverty and violence is continually seen throughout history. In the case of the Chicago residents during the 1995 heat wave, poverty-stricken civilians rebelled by leaning towards violence, but the results ended without any positive gain. The United Nations website provides a document that highlights the issues upper developing countries face. One of its passages mentions the following:
“Low income leads to low savings; low savings lead to low investment; low investment leads to low productivity and low incomes. Poverty leads to environmental degradation, which in turn undermines the assets of the poor and exacerbates poverty. Poverty can lead to violence and conflict, and the associated destruction of physical, human, social and organizational capital in turn causes poverty to intensify”.
Also, for more information as to how the media covered news on the 1995 Chicagoheat wave, see below.