It’s officially summer in North America, and that means one thing – it’s getting hot. Every year, heat waves are the deadliest extreme weather event, and they’re only getting more severe. Often, the people who fall victim to heatwaves are those who are left without access to air conditioning. Dr. Diana Hernández has a name for this phenomenon: energy insecurity. 

Energy insecurity – inequitable access of affordable energy for basic needs like heating and cooling – is a massive environmental justice problem. It affects one in three American households, and disproportionately impacts Black and Latino households. In a heatwave, energy insecurity can have life or death consequences. This week on the show, host Melissa Lott and Diana talk about how to tackle energy insecurity and building decarbonization at the same time.   

The Big Switch is produced by Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy in partnership with Post Script Media. This episode was produced by Alexandria Herr and Daniel Woldorff. Theme music and mixing by Sean Marquand. Story editing by Anne Bailey. A special thanks to Natalie Volk, Kirsten Smith and Kyu Lee. Our executive editor is Stephen Lacey.