While sea level rise and flooding frequently receive the lion’s share of attention in southeast Florida, extreme heat is a significant climate hazard posing risk to our communities, particularly low-income populations and those who labor outdoors. According to the Compact’s recently released updated climate indicators for the Southeast Florida region, Miami-Dade county is expected to experience 88 days annually–nearly 3 months a year–where heat index (how hot it feels factoring in relative humidity) is projected to exceed 105° F. Historically, there were only seven days a year where the County experienced this level of extreme heat. Acknowledging this significant risk, Miami-Dade County Mayor Levine Cava recently appointed a first-of-its-kind Chief Heat Officer for the county, former Chief Resilience Officer of the City of Miami, Jane Gilbert.
Alongside this appointment, the County and the Resilient 305 network also announced they have joined the City Champions for Heat Action (CCHA) initiative, a cornerstone program of the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA), an initiative of the Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center. Gilbert will co-lead an interagency Heat Health Task Force to be formed this summer in partnership with co-chair, Dr. Cheryl Holder, interim associate dean at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, to include municipalities, county departments, healthcare and community-based organizations, and universities. In addition to building upon existing county initiatives that mitigate heat impacts, the task force’s efforts will focus on developing a comprehensive heat plan, educating the public about higher temperatures, planning for “cool” pavement installation, advancing shade structures at bus stops, and setting up a framework for community “cooling centers.”