Hit and Miss #46

Hi there!

Despite a brief reprieve today, this week is looking hot in Ottawa. On the theme of heat, here are three links for you this week.

Extreme heat is becoming more common, and cities are especially vulnerable:

Cities in countries that are less used to dealing with extreme heat are especially vulnerable. The 2003 heatwave in Europe led to 70,000 deaths. …

The Future We Don’t Want analysis shows that Asia, and the Middle East, are already home to many cities that experience extreme temperatures. By 2050, the number of exposed cities in these regions will increase significantly with hundreds more cities at risk.

There’s also a social dimension to extreme heat and our political reactions to it:

Mr. Bilolikar says it’s hard to persuade policymakers, even the public, to take heat risk seriously. It’s always been hot in Hyderabad. It’s getting hotter slowly, almost indiscernibly.

Heat is yet another situation where Garrett Hardin’s theory of the tragedy of the commons—where we each act in rational self-interest, thus harming the collective—seems quite applicable:

At home, he had resolved not to use his air-conditioner. Through his open windows, though, his neighbor’s machine blew hot air into his apartment. His three-year-old daughter became so overheated that her skin was hot to touch. Reluctantly, he shut his windows and turned his machines on.

Heat can impair your ability to think (via Sameer Vasta’s excellent weekly newsletter). If you write a standardized test on a hot day, or in a testing centre without air conditioning, you may perform worse than someone writing in a cooler setting.

Given the weight put on standardized testing scores, at least in some countries, this can have significant socioeconomic impacts: a hot testing day could limit your future education or career prospects. (Add this to the growing list of reasons why standardized testing is highly overrated.)

All the best for the week ahead! May you find a way to pass it in the shade.