According to the website USAFacts, in 2022 heat killed 1,714 people in the U.S., up from 297 in 2004. At greatest risk are men between the ages of 55-64.

Why is it that we name every hurricane that comes up the coast, that we are mesmerized by tornadoes and make action movies about them, when heat kills more people than hurricanes and tornadoes combined? Why is it that heat events are not considered emergencies by FEMA? Could it have anything to do with the fact that heat kills less affluent people who can’t afford air conditioning or have to work in the middle of the day and the other more covered weather events destroy property and are more exciting to report on?

What can we do about this? How about if we started naming heat events the way we do hurricanes? How about if we ask our elected representatives to make sure that FEMA considers heat events as emergencies so that people and communities can get help with cooling facilities, and cooling technology. Perhaps the oil companies who many of us think are complicit with these extreme weather events should start funding their remediation. But, it doesn’t really matter if you believe this is related to human causes; it’s going to get worse and we need to help each other, our grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren adapt.

I suggest that we name the heat events alphabetically by fossil fuel companies. How does this sound for this week’s heat event: The British Petroleum Heat Dome?

Emanuel Pariser


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