New School News

Professor Timon McPhearson Selected as a New York City Climate Hero

Timon McPhearson, an associate professor of Urban Ecology and Director of the Urban Systems Lab (USL) was recently named as one of 30 New York City “Climate Heroes” by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) and The Human Impacts Institute, a local environmental nonprofit organization. 

McPhearson was cited for his work “developing new models, data visualization,  and urban design tools to help communities make informed decisions.”

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to be included in such a stellar cast of honorees,” says McPhearson.  “This recognition is important for elevating the work of the members of the Urban Systems Lab to advance resilience to climate change and the critical need to do this in a way that is more just and equitable. Our work on climate justice is one of the clear overlaps in work by many of the other honorees.” 

McPhearson has collaborated closely with two of the other honorees; Kizzy Charles Guzmán, in the NYC Mayors Office of Resiliency, and he’s also done collaborative work with Peggy Shepard’s team at WE ACT for Environmental Justice. 

To determine who they would honor, the DOT and The Human Impacts Institute searched for the city’s ‘most impactful leaders on addressing the climate crisis in our city.” In addition to educators, activists, artists, and policymakers, McPhearson was one of the only scientists chosen.   

“These climate heros are making our city more healthy, resilient, and just,” the Institute writes on its website.  “We are proud to share the stories of this amazing team of activists, policymakers, innovators, and educators.” 

The USL’s recent work has focused on overlaps in climate injustice and COVID injustice. In response to the ongoing   COVID-19 crisis, the USL launched a new COVID web resource that leverages data visualization and spatial analysis to explore key questions on the intersection of social inequity, healthcare, and vulnerabilities to COVID-19 and climate change. 

  • In an April 22nd Medium story, the USL discussed how social vulnerability indicators predict inequity in New York City Covid-19 cases. The story offers five charts that explain how the virus impacts the city. The charts demonstrate that the urban poor may be the largest casualty of the crisis; communities of color are most affected by Covid-19; having insurance is critical; more people in the home matters; and the elderly are at risk, no matter their socio-economic circumstances. 
  •  On Earth Day, April 22, McPhearson participated in multiple events including The New School Alumni’s weekly Instagram Think & Drink series, discussing “how climate change and extreme weather may interact with existing social and health vulnerability, and why examining interdependent risks of multiple hazards is critical for protecting the most vulnerable and developing resilience policy and planning in New York.” 
  • On April 29, The Architectural League of New York’s Urban Omnibus website featured a story about the USL and how many of the key indicators of vulnerability affected by the COVID-19 crisis, overlap with climate change.  

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