Photo Credit: Rockaway Youth on Banner by Flickr.com user Light Brigading

Forget Pokemon Go, Use Your Phone to Fight Climate Change!

A changing climate means a changing society. The Island Press Urban Resilience Project, supported by The Kresge Foundation and The JPB Foundation, is committed to a greener, fairer future for all.​ This post was originally published on Medium.com.

Introducing the new NASA-fueled app that allows users to “capture” the impacts of urban heat and drought. 

PRESS RELEASE: September 23, 2105Los Angeles, California — In spring, citizen scientists noted the jacarandas were blooming early. In summer, more mosquitos seemed to be swarming. Now, on the cusp of fall, what climate shifts might locals...
Photo credit: Julia Kumari Drapkin, 
Executive Producer of I See Change.

Too hot to go looking for Squirtles and Weedles? With heat indexes reaching 110 degrees in some areas this week, it’s too hot for a lot of stuff. And there’s more where this came from: climate change is turning up the heat — withdevastating impacts on human health and well-being.

So, instead of shambling around like a Pokemon Go-addicted zombie, why not use your phone to fight climate change?

Here’s how. A group called ISeeChange recently introduced a new mobile app that allows users to document the impacts of urban heat and drought. The ISeeChange Tracker app, created in collaboration with NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 Mission, is creating a photographic database of real-world climate impacts. Crowd-sourced data collected by the app’s users could advance understanding — and action — on climate change.

It’s an urgent mission, as most of the country broils beneath a massive heat dome. Heat is the top weather-related killer, causing between 600 and 1,500 heat-related deaths in an average summer. And summers are no longer “average.” Climate Central’s States at Risk project found that most U.S. cities are already seeing hotter, more humid summers. By the end of the century, that could mean thousands — or even tens of thousands — more deaths each year. Those most at risk are infants and young children, the elderly, athletes and people who work outside.

Not surprisingly, low-income people who live without air conditioning also face special risks. To better understand those risks, ISeeChange has teamed up with partners to launch the Harlem Heat Project. The project will use sensors to capture hard-to-access residential temperature data, with the help of a crew of community-based citizen scientists. The project’s partners include public radio station WNYC, climate news service AdaptNY, and community groups from Harlem including WE ACT for Environmental Justice, radio station WHCR-FM90.3 and experts from City College of New York. Stories and data will be synced and made available to participants with the Tracker app.

Those stories and data can inform better responses to climate change, says ISeeChange founder Julia Kumari Drapkin. “There is so much to learn about about how climate change is affecting our daily lives — real people and places,” says Drapkin. “Every single one us has knowledge to contribute — and knowledge is power.”

The ISeeChange app is now available for iOS and is available to download in the App Store. Android users can participate in ISeeChange investigations on their phones via the mobile website.

So, there you have it. It’s time to stop collecting candies and stardust — and collect climate-change data instead. Anyway, it’s far too hot for Pokemon Go. And unless something changes, it will only get hotter.