Temperatures in Puerto Rico have hit record breaking heights and the nation is definitely feeling the effects. A public-school teacher is also making the rounds on social media due to a video of him getting aggravated by the extreme temperatures. Many in the country believe the government is not doing enough to mitigate the effects of such high temperatures.
“It is about 99 degrees (37 C),” Angel Muniz said in a video posted on social media as seven fans whirred noisily around him.
“It isn’t even noon yet, and an advisory today warned of a heat index of up to 111 F (43.8 C).” he stated.
Caribbean territories are struggling to respond to climate change effects while baking temperatures are breaking records this year. As a result, students and teachers are burning up in schools which lack air conditioning and are forced to demand action from the authorities.
Generally speaking, August was the warmest month world wide and 2023 has been the second warmest year in recorded history. Puerto Rico in particular, broke previous records with 47 nights recording temperatures above 80 F (26 C).
The saddest part is that public schools which lack air conditioners and often have dysfunctional cooler systems due to frequent power outages, blamed on the hurricane season, are unlikely to find relief.
Just last month, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi slyly set aside a bill calling for air conditioning systems in schools, much to the rage and frustration of many.
“It’s irresponsible, because this is an emergency. It’s a matter of public health,” said Yasim Sarkis, a social worker at an elementary school that suffers from a lack of electricity and whose son attends a public high school with no air conditioning as well.
Ironically, even though her school installed ACs in April to bring relief to its 165 students and 40 employees, they have yet to be turned on. “There’s not enough current” she said, with obvious disappointment.
After Hurricane Maria came to the island in 2017, the electrical problems became a regular feature, as it wreaked havoc on the power grid which still has not been brought back to full functionality.
Pierluisi decided not to provide a written explanation for vetoing the bill. Spokeswoman, Sheila Angleró, told The Associated Press that the project was likely to have a “significant fiscal impact” and required a thorough analysis from the legislature’s budget office. Regardless of the heat, the statement is an apt one considering the fact that the island is emerging from the biggest US municipal bankruptcy in history.
“The projects can make all the sense, but without this, they cannot be signed,” she said.
Air conditioning is considered a necessity by a large chunk of the 3.2 million people that call the island home where government offices, businesses and homes run cooling systems non-stop, especially in the summer season which is usually quite extreme.
Yet, air conditioning remains rare at public schools, which depend on fans and trade winds which has led to an escalation in the issue in this season where the temperatures are rising incredulously.