Naming Periods Of Extreme Heat Is A Step In The Right Direction

The Atlantic council’s Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation’s launching of the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance (EHRA) to counter the growing threat of extreme urban heat has an interesting idea.

Extreme heat is an invisible danger proving injurious for those with existing health conditions and the disinterested. Sunny days are associated with holidays, luxury and beauty, but as climate change builds momentum, summers will become hotter and winters will become unpredictable.

In 2020, we experienced our hottest ever August which brought along with it hidden dangers, including heat injury, particularly for those who do not take the proper precautions.

The foundation launched a press release detailing the responsibilities of its worldwide initiative, with its sights set on helping the poor and vulnerable.

“This extreme heat crisis can no longer be the ‘silent killer’ it is…” “This growing risk – and related solutions – must be blasted from a megaphone to decision makers and to people everywhere made even more vulnerable by the impacts of COVID-19…” said Kathy Baughman McLeod, Director and SVP of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center.

The EHRA press release notes that by mid-century, more than 3.5 billion people will be affected by periods of extreme heat with 1.6 billion located in urban centres where temperatures are generally warmer.

The World Health Organisation has long been concerned about the risks of extreme heat acknowledging climate change will drastically increase the frequency and intensity of its effects. The risk of heat death rises with dehydration, those with pre-existing health conditions and will cause indirect impacts including increased ambulance call-outs with slower response times.

The first priority for the EHRA is to begin naming periods of extreme heat just as storms and hurricanes are to build an increased sense of awareness in the public eye. Ms Baughman McLeod says…

“With the power and reach of the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance, priority one is to build a standard practice of naming and ranking heat waves globally, just as we do with tropical storms, so that communities and people can adequately prepare, and lives can be saved.”

“Heat waves are one of the biggest climate-related threats to human health but rarely command the same attention as more visibly devastating disasters such as tropical storms or hurricanes”

In the United Kingdom, many old and new build homes are designed to keep heat in. The Committee on Climate Change reports the risk of homes overheating will increase as extreme heat becomes the norm by the 2040s and has advised the government to pursue new policy to reduce this risk. Naming periods of extreme heat will hopefully increase awareness in both the public domain and nudge property designers into rethinking designs for new developments.