In the latest report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July 2016 marked the hottest month on record the world has ever seen. July also marked the 15th straight month to break temperature records, indicating an increase in global temperatures that is widely attributed by scientists to global warming. According to the report, “this year is widely expected to set a new annual temperature record, breaking the one set last year. The first seven months of 2016 were 1.85 degrees above the 20th century average, according to NOAA, breaking last year’s mark by 0.34 degrees.”
The global warming phenomenon is impacting the world in myriad ways–some of which were anticipated, many of which were beyond prediction. In cities and rural towns across the United States, record-breaking temperatures create an unprecedented pressure on households that rivals sweltering heat and humidity. For many low-income families, rising temperatures create life-or-death scenarios in which families must make a judgement call on how they spend their already-limited funds: keeping their utility bills paid to combat unsafe temperatures in their homes versus feeding their families or paying rent or a mortgage. For households with elderly members, children or individuals with disabilities, rising temperatures create unsafe living environments that can cause–or play a part in–life-threatening illnesses and health issues.
The Campaign for Home Energy Assistance continues to work on Capitol Hill to raise awareness about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is one avenue that low-income families can turn to for temporary help–enabling qualifying households to eliminate the choice between safe homes and hungry children. As the world continues to see increasingly hot summers and frigid cold winters, programs like LIHEAP become vitally important. As we prepare for a new administration, it is important to remember the plight of families across the country even after the record-breaking heat subsides and the chill of Fall sets in.