Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. University of Chicago Press.

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The book by Eric Klinenberg contains probably the most thorough analysis of the urban catastrophe in Chicago. Klinenberg started his years-long investigation into the reasons behind and effects of the catastrophe on people not long after the Chicago heat wave happened. The book is pertinent because it informs decision-makers, community planners, activists, and academics on how to prevent similar disasters in the future through its in-depth analysis. Influential social scientist Klinenberg supports his claims with data from social statistics, interviews, and public papers. By conducting a social autopsy, Kleinenberg concludes that a high number of the population affected by the Chicago heat wave had low

socioeconomic statuses and weak social relations. Undoubtedly, this source provides a new perspective of understanding the Chicago-based catastrophe.

Hayhoe, K., Sheridan, S., Kalkstein, L., & Greene, S. (2010). Climate change, heat waves, and mortality projections for Chicago. Journal of Great Lakes Research. 36 (2): 65-73.

Following the devastating consequences of the 1995 Chicago heat wave, researchers Hayhoe, Steridan, Kalkstein, and Greene aimed to understand how temperatures and climate would change in future. The scholars found that the world would experience extreme temperatures and heat waves will be frequent over the coming century. More specifically, lower (B1) emissions may cause heat waves of similar meteorological characteristics to of Chicago every year while higher emissions (A1FI) may increase the frequency to three times a year. If another heat wave hit Chicago, it would be intense with mortality rates ten times higher than that of 1995. The scholars predict that Chicago will experience between 5 and 25 heats wave between the mid-and end of the century. Notably, this source is relevant since it informs the audience the time and intensity of the next heat wave in Chicago. The authors’ authority is unquestionable as they represent important institutions of higher learning in Texas, Kent, Oklahoma, and Miami. The authors’ ensure accurate information by conducting numerous empirical studies.

Peng, R. D., Bobb, J. F., Tebaldi, C., McDaniel, L., Bell, M. L., & Dominici, F. (2011). Toward a quantitative estimate of future heat wave mortality under global climate change. Environmental health perspectives, 119(5), 701.

Peng et al. (2010) regretted that although numerous studies have affirmed that the world would experience frequent and severe heat waves in future, there was a dearth of information on how these catastrophes will affect human health. As a result, the scholars conducted empirical research on Chicago to discover the future excess mortality caused by heat waves. They analyzed climate-related mortality data between 1987 and 2005. After applying the Poisson regression models, the scholars found that between 166 and 2,217 will die every year from 2081 to 2100 due to heat waves. Undoubtedly, this source is relevant since, unlike the others, it offers the exact durations when intense heat waves could occur and estimate the number of possible fatalities. The sources dependence on empirical data from a reliable source enhances its accuracy. However, the authors fail to mention research limitations. Additionally, the study focuses more on mortality data but fails to indicate the impacts of heat waves on human health.

Basara, J. B., Basara, H. G., Illston, B. G., & Crawford, K. C. (2010). The impact of the urban heat island during an intense heat wave in Oklahoma City. Advances in Meteorology, 2010. Doi:10.1155/2010/230365.

While most scholars focus on Chicago when studying the impacts of heat waves, Basara et al. focus on Oklahoma. The researchers inform the readers that Oklahoma received a severe heat wave between July and August of 2008. In their research encompassing 46 locations, these analysts aimed to quantify the impact of Oklahoma’s Urban Heat Island (UHI) as well as analyze the difference between temperatures in urban and rural areas. Compared to rural settings, findings showed that urban areas were 0.5oC warmer during the day and over 2oC at night. Urban rather than the countryside were at high risk of experiencing heat waves. This source, unlike many, is current since it focuses on a recent catastrophe. The authors are authoritative associates of the University of Oklahoma, especially in the departments of Climatology and Applied Social Research. The source is related to the contemporary research since it shows that urban settings and activities increase the risk of heat waves.

Stone, B., Hess, J. J., & Frumkin, H. (2010). Urban form and extreme heat events: are sprawling cities more vulnerable to climate change than compact cities?Environmental health perspectives, 118(10), 1425.

Stone, Hess, & Frumkin (2010) enhance the research of Basara et al. (2010) by analyzing why Chicago, and not any other city, was highly affected by the heat wave of 1995. While acknowledging that urban areas are higher risks of experiencing heat waves than rural areas, Stone, Hess, and Frumkim (2010) stated that Chicago’s sprawling patterns of urban development triggered the intense heat wave in 1995. After studying development patterns between 1956 and 2005, the researchers concluded that lack of vegetation cover, dark surfaces with low albedos that absorb and reradiate heat, building patterns that trap heat, and increased heat from cars, generators and other sources increased urban areas’ risks of heat waves compared to compact metropolitan regions. Apart from being authoritative researchers, Stone, Hess, and Frumkin analyzed a broad range of research to increase the accuracy and reliability of their study. The source is very instructive, especially to urban planners and health officials.

Ye, X., Wolff, R., Yu, W., Vaneckova, P., Pan, X., & Tong, S. (2012). Ambient temperature and morbidity: a review of epidemiological evidence. Environmental health perspectives, 120(1), 19.

This source boldly provides an epidemiological evidence of the link between ambient temperatures and morbidity. Given that the Chicago heat wave killed almost 500 people within five days, it is paramount to study how temperatures influence death rates. Every year, thousands of people are hospitalized for health complications caused by climate changes, especially during heat waves. For example, in 1995, the number of patients in Chicago was 1, 072, an 11% increase. After a broad and thorough study of existing literature, Xe et al. (2012) concluded that there exists a close relationship between ambient temperatures and morbidity. Children and the elderly are the most affected by these temperature changes, especially heat waves. Apart from being relevant to the current research, this source is current since it includes information of up to 2010 while the second largest heat wave occurred in Chicago in 1995. By its authors, this source is authoritative, relevant, and uses a broad range of literature to enhance the accuracy of its findings.

Fischer, E. M., & Schär, C. (2010). Consistent geographical patterns of changes in high-impact European heatwaves. Nature Geoscience, 3(6), 398.

Fischer and Schar’s study aims to fill an existing research gap by exploring which geographical areas are most likely to experienced heat waves over the century. The study advances Stone, Hess, and Frumkin's findings by stating that apart from urban development patterns, Chicago’s geographical position contributed the severity of the 1995 heat wave. Given the last notable heat wave occurred in Oklahoma in 2008, this source dated 2010 is current. Also, it is relevant to the study of Chicago’s heat wave since it hints that the city’s geographical location may have intensified the heat wave. Fischer and Schar are both reputable scholars of geography and influential contributors to the “Nature Geoscience” journal. Although this source is helpful in the study of Chicago’s heat wave of 1995, it mostly focuses on European summer heat waves of 2003.

Klinenberg, E. (1999). Denaturalizing disaster: a social autopsy of the 1995 Chicago heat wave. Theory and Society, 28(2), 239-295.

In 1995, soon after a heat wave caused the death of about 500 people in Chicago, Erick Klinenberg, a renowned social scientist, embarked on research to establish how social and spatial divisions that govern most urban cities further contributed to the high mortality rate. Klinenberg analyzed data from four years of research to conclude that most people who died in Chicago’s heat wave were victims of neglect and marginalization by the City Council. A high number of those who died were casualties of new urban poverty. Many lacked coolers; others could not afford to keep them on while some feared to sleep outside due to crime levels. Poor citizens, mainly isolated seniors died in large numbers. Although this source is not current, it incorporates information from interviews that Klinenberg’s conducted soon after the heat wave. Therefore, the source is highly accurate. It is relevant to the study of Chicago heat wave since it introduces a social perspective of the catastrophe.

Browning, C. R., Wallace, D., Feinberg, S. L., & Cagney, K. A. (2006). Neighborhood social processes, physical conditions, and disaster-related mortality: the case of the 1995 Chicago heat wave. American Sociological Review, 71(4), 661-678.

This article relies on Klinenberg’s (2002) neighborhood theory and ethnography to clarify community-levels differences of deaths during the Chicago heat wave of July 1995. The authors admit that neighborhood structures, social network interactions, economic statuses, and common fallacy influenced mortality patterns during the natural catastrophe. Poor communities had high mortality rates compared to affluent areas. Where commercial activities declined over the disaster, death rates increased. Also, mortality rates were lower in neighborhoods with high collective efficacy and social interaction. This source introduces a new perspective on the causes of death during the Chicago heat wave of 1995: socioeconomic. It is relevant since it builds on previous studies by Klinenberg and fills existing research gaps. Integration of information from numerous sources enhances its accuracy and authority. The article’s purpose is to inform readers how socio-economic factors facilitated or limited mortality rates during Chicago’s heat waves.

Palecki, M. A., Changnon, S. A., & Kunkel, K. E. (2001). The nature and impacts of the July 1999 heat wave in the midwestern United States: learning from the lessons of 1995. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 82(7), 1353-1367.

Paleck, Changnon, and Kunkel view the Chicago heat wave from a perspective different than that of most researchers. Unlike many scholars who criticize the Chicago municipality for failing to protect its citizens during the scorching period, the authors commend the city administrators for learning from their mistakes in 1995 to implement effective mitigation responses that led to reduced mortality rate in the 1999 heat wave. Despite similar meteorological conditions, the number of deaths reduced from 700 in 1995 to 114 in 1999. Thus source is highly important for this study since it introduces a novel outlook. The authoritative authors provide suggestions on how to further improve the municipal heat wave response thus enhancing the article’s relevance. Data from numerous sources improve this article’s information accuracy. However, the author fails to mention the limitations and competing interests that may influenced their opinion on Chicago municipal.

Kaiser, R., Le Tertre, A., Schwartz, J., Gotway, C. A., Daley, W. R., & Rubin, C. H. (2007). The effect of the 1995 heat wave in Chicago on all-cause and cause-specific mortality. American journal of public health, 97(Supplement_1), S158-S162.

While many articles have stated that a high number of people died due to extreme temperatures in Chicago in 1995, few have detailed the exact reasons of death. Kaiser et al. (2007) used Poisson regression to examine all-cause and cause-specific mortality. The authors concluded that mortality displacements caused the deaths of 692 deaths between June 21st and August 10th 1995. There were disproportional mortality and movement risks among Black communities. The article is relevant to the research on Chicago’s heat wave since it introduces new information: deaths did not arise from extreme temperatures only but also from stress caused by displacements.

Naughton, M. P., Henderson, A., Mirabelli, M. C., Kaiser, R., Wilhelm, J. L., Kieszak, S. M., & McGeehin, M. A. (2002). Heat-related mortality during a 1999 heat wave in Chicago. American journal of preventive medicine, 22(4), 221-227.

After Chicago experienced extreme ambient temperatures in 1995, the city witnessed another heat wave in 1999, which killed over 80 people. The authors of this article explored the risk factors for heat-related deaths and examined the effectiveness of heat-relieving interventions initiated after the 1995 Chicago heat wave. After thorough research, the authors’ findings resonated with those of earlier scholars: people leaving alone were at high risk of heat-related deaths; a functional air conditioner was the best protective instrument against deaths caused by heat waves. Surprisingly, more young than old people died in 1999 unlike in 1995 when the mortality rate of the elderly individuals was high. The article is relevant since it shows that earlier intervention initiatives, although active, focused more on the elderly and neglected the young people.

Klinenberg, E. (2003). Review of heat wave: social autopsy of disaster in Chicago. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(7), 666-667.

In this article, Klinenberg responds to critiques of his book “Heat Wave.” He emphasizes destitute, old, and isolated people living in urban areas are at high risk of heat-related deaths. Therefore, the author recommends reinforcement of family and social ties as a means to avoid high mortality rates during heat waves in future. The author calls on the government to improve social conditions in urban areas to prevent diseases and deaths. This source is important since it lays the foundation for future interventions. Its author is authoritative social scientists. However, a high percentage of the information in this source relies on the author’s personal and subjective sentiments rather than objective research.

Bernard, M. S., and McGeehin, M. (2004). Municipal Heat Wave Response Plans. American Public Health Association, 22(1) 23-78.

Although extreme temperatures cause over 400 deaths annually, most municipal councils lack appropriate response plans. Susan Benard and Michael McGeehin conducted a study on 18 cities including Chicago and concluded that unpreparedness of municipal councils to manage natural catastrophes led to high mortality rates. This article is related to other sources since it exposes states’ inabilities to mitigate disasters and proceeds to offer recommendations.

Whitman, S., Good, G., Donoghue, E. R., Benbow, N., Shou, W., & Mou, S. (1997). Mortality in Chicago attributed to the July 1995 heat wave. American Journal of public health, 87(9), 1515-1518.

This source explored the diverse impacts of the 1995 Chicago heat wave on different populations. The authors noted that the city recorded 514 heat-related deaths and 696 excess deaths. Blacks were more affected than the Whites and Hispanics. This source is relevant since it exposes the racial dynamics of the Chicago heat wave. Its in-depth research enhances its credibility and accuracy. However, authors admitted that they were unable to compare geographical areas due to lack of methodological standards.

Jones, C. (2015). Why the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995 Needs a 20-Year Remembrance. Chicago Tribune.

Chris Jones argues that given the scope and extent of the 1995 catastrophe, the government should take action to commemorate the incident and honor the victims. The author states that Chicago municipal has a moral obligation to remember those who died because the city miserably failed its people during the scorching period. Therefore, Chris Jones suggests an artistic response such as a dance or poem. This source is relevant to this study because it focuses on the obligation of the municipality to its citizens. It is authoritative as it appears on an influential website of the “Chicago Tribune.” However, it may not be credible since it relies on the author’s personal opinion rather than researched facts.

Schrecker, T. (2008). Denaturalizing scarcity: a strategy of inquiry for public-health ethics. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86(8), 600-605.

Schrecker applies Klineneberg’s concept of “Denaturalizing Disaster” to address the scarcity. More specifically, the author opines that the inabilities of governmental institutions to adequately address catastrophes such as 1995 heat wave and Katrina are not due to a natural scarcity of resources but rather the failure of individuals to act responsibly. Schrecker states that in addressing scarcity, people must be willing to forego other goods and benefits. Undoubtedly, this source is highly relevant to the study of the 1995 Chicago hat wave since it relates with earlier research that shows Chicago failed in mitigating the impacts of the extreme temperatures. The source specifically focuses on scarcity in hospitals, arguably the core institutions after any natural disaster. The author uses a broad range of research to enhance credibility and accuracy of the article. Given that the study was partially funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research with no competing interests, it is objective, authoritative, and reliable.

Klinenberg, E. (2001). Bodies that don’t matter: death and dereliction in Chicago. Body & Society, 7(2-3), 121-136.

In this article, Klinenberg focused on how journalistic and political treatment of dead bodies distorted the understanding of social issues after the 1995 Chicago heat wave. The author concludes that when scientific, political, and journalistic inquiries make dead bodies the core objects of analysis, there is bound to be a distraction from the “real” issues. For example, institutions focused on the high number of dead bodies after the 1995 Chicago heat wave, showing little or no regards to the social problems that had led to the high mortality. Kleinenberg, an authoritative scholar in social sciences, introduces a novel aspect in the study of the heat wave. He backs his claims with facts from a broad base of research thus enhancing the accuracy, reliability, and credibility of this source. However, Klinenberg advocates for social issues without declaring possible competing interests.

Klinenberg, E. (2001). Dying alone: The social production of urban isolation. Ethnography, 2(4), 501-531.

This article focuses on the specific urban conditions that facilitated high mortality rates during the Chicago heat wave in 1995. The author associates the high death rates to four factors: an increasing number of people living alone, fear of crime and use of social withdrawal as a survival strategy; urban centers that lack attractions to entice people out of their homes; and finally, political dysfunction in Chicago City. Unlike other sources, this article provides the specific urban conditions that lead to high mortality rates during natural disasters. It is relevant to this study because it specifically focuses on Chicago, its author is authoritative, and includes numerous facts that strengthen his claims.

Guindon, S. M., & Nirupama, N. (2015). The reducing risk from urban heat island effects in cities. Natural Hazards, 77(2), 823-831.

While acknowledging that urban areas are at high risk of experiencing frequent and intense heat waves, Guidon and Nirupama aim at reducing those hazards. The authors restate that the sprawling development patterns in urban areas facilitate the urban heat island effect (UHI). While focusing on Toronto and Montreal, the authors recommend strategies of modifying urban environments to minimize heat storage. Not only is this source current, but its authors are also influential and accredited scholars of geography. The article includes relevant and informed recommendations that may be beneficial in mitigating risks of heat waves in the future.

Bibliography

Basara, J. B., Basara, H. G., Illston, B. G., & Crawford, K. C. (2010). The impact of the urban heat island during an intense heat wave in Oklahoma City. Advances in Meteorology, 2010. Doi:10.1155/2010/230365.

Bernard, M. S., and McGeehin, M. (2004). Municipal Heat Wave Response Plans. American Public Health Association, 22(1) 23-78.

Browning, C. R., Wallace, D., Feinberg, S. L., & Cagney, K. A. (2006). Neighborhood social processes, physical conditions, and disaster-related mortality: the case of the 1995 Chicago heat wave. American Sociological Review, 71(4), 661-678.

Fischer, E. M., & Schär, C. (2010). Consistent geographical patterns of changes in high-impact European heatwaves. Nature Geoscience, 3(6), 398.

Guindon, S. M., & Nirupama, N. (2015). The reducing risk from urban heat island effects in cities. Natural Hazards, 77(2), 823-831.

Hayhoe, K., Sheridan, S., Kalkstein, L., & Greene, S. (2010). Climate change, heat waves, and mortality projections for Chicago. Journal of Great Lakes Research. 36 (2): 65-73.

Jones, C. (2015). Why the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995 Needs a 20-Year Remembrance. Chicago Tribune.

Kaiser, R., Le Tertre, A., Schwartz, J., Gotway, C. A., Daley, W. R., & Rubin, C. H. (2007). The effect of the 1995 heat wave in Chicago on all-cause and cause-specific mortality. American journal of public health, 97(Supplement_1), S158-S162.

Klinenberg, E. (1999). Denaturalizing disaster: a social autopsy of the 1995 Chicago heat wave. Theory and Society, 28(2), 239-295.

Klinenberg, E. (2001). Bodies that don’t matter: death and dereliction in Chicago. Body & Society, 7(2-3), 121-136.

Klinenberg, E. (2001). Dying alone: The social production of urban isolation. Ethnography, 2(4), 501-531.

Klinenberg, E. (2003). Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. University of Chicago Press.

Klinenberg, E. (2003). Review of heat wave: social autopsy of disaster in Chicago. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(7), 666-667.

Naughton, M. P., Henderson, A., Mirabelli, M. C., Kaiser, R., Wilhelm, J. L., Kieszak, S. M., & McGeehin, M. A. (2002). Heat-related mortality during a 1999 heat wave in Chicago. American journal of preventive medicine, 22(4), 221-227.

Palecki, M. A., Changnon, S. A., & Kunkel, K. E. (2001). The nature and impacts of the July 1999 heat wave in the midwestern United States: learning from the lessons of 1995. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 82(7), 1353-1367.

Peng, R. D., Bobb, J. F., Tebaldi, C., McDaniel, L., Bell, M. L., & Dominici, F. (2011). Toward a quantitative estimate of future heat wave mortality under global climate change. Environmental health perspectives, 119(5), 701.

Schrecker, T. (2008). Denaturalizing scarcity: a strategy of inquiry for public-health ethics. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 86(8), 600-605.

Stone, B., Hess, J. J., & Frumkin, H. (2010). Urban form and extreme heat events: are sprawling cities more vulnerable to climate change than compact cities?. Environmental health perspectives, 118(10), 1425.

Whitman, S., Good, G., Donoghue, E. R., Benbow, N., Shou, W., & Mou, S. (1997). Mortality in Chicago attributed to the July 1995 heat wave. American Journal of public health, 87(9), 1515-1518.

Ye, X., Wolff, R., Yu, W., Vaneckova, P., Pan, X., & Tong, S. (2012). Ambient temperature and morbidity: a review of epidemiological evidence. Environmental health perspectives, 120(1), 19.

July 15, 2023
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