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September Heatwave Is Closing Northeast Schools

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Boston Globe / Getty Images

Schools across the northeastern U.S. are cutting the school days short this week as extreme heat and a lack of air conditioning combine to make dangerous conditions inside classrooms.


Numerous districts in Connecticut and New Jersey, at least two districts in New York state, and one in the Washington, DC metro area sent kids home early at least one day this week, while schools in Ohio and Massachusetts also closed early due to heat.

Some public schools in Baltimore, where more than 60 buildings have "inadequate cooling" or no air conditioning at all, shuttered altogether earlier in the week. "Teachers across the region described buildings with internal temperatures over 100 degrees, listless students, and flagging attention in the classroom," the New York Times reported.

For a deeper dive:

New York Times, Baltimore Sun, CBSNewYork, ThinkProgress, Washington Post, Cleveland.com

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Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.

"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."

Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.

"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."

So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.

"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."

So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.

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Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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