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Yale Program on Climate Change Communication


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Social Studies, English Language Arts, Health

Resource Types

  • Articles and Websites
  • Charts, Graphs, and Tables

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - West, California

Beat the Heat: Extreme Heat Risk Perceptions & Air Conditioning Ownership in California

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  • This article uses survey data and other research to show how different populations in California perceive the risk of extreme heat and the proportions of people in California that have access to air conditioning. 
  • The demographics analyzed include age, gender, political affiliation, race/ethnicity, home ownership, and housing type.
  • The article offers a number of preventative measures that individuals can take in order to protect themselves during periods of extreme heat. 
Teaching Tips


  • Easy-to-read graphs will help students understand the data discussed in the article.
  • The article links to many other helpful articles and resources.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The first link in the article provides an excellent overview on the increase in heat waves in the United States.
  • Students should know how to read bar graphs.


  • Science or social studies teachers could use the graphs as an opening activity to spark curiosity as to why different populations might perceive heat risk differently. This could be a great opener to an environmental justice lesson plan.
  • Civics classes could discuss why the perceived risk of extreme heat differs for people in different political parties.
  • Other resources on this topic include this video on the health risks of climate change, this article on dangerous humid heat extremes, and this video about extreme heat in Jacobabad, Pakistan.
Scientist Notes
The resource explores spatial variation of human perception and practices to cope with heat waves and other extreme weather conditions in California. It clarifies how people are disproportionately impacted by heat waves. CCAM datasets were used to complement  the field survey. The resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-1 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.7.9-12 Assess options for individual and collective action to address local, regional, and global problems by engaging in self-reflection, strategy identification, and complex causal reasoning.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: History/Social Studies (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.10 By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.8 Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.
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