© 2023 90.5 WESA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

In Spain, Seville hopes naming heat waves can save lives


Can a name save lives? The city of Seville in Spain is betting it can.


Yesterday, the mayor announced a new program - the world's first to give official names to severe heat waves.


JUAN ESPADAS: (Non-English language spoken).

MCCAMMON: Just like tropical storms and hurricanes, impending heat waves will be named and classified by severity.

SHAPIRO: The pilot project was developed in partnership with the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center. The center's director, Kathy Baughman McLeod, says the goal is to help people understand the danger of extreme heat, which she calls a silent killer.

KATHY BAUGHMAN MCLEOD: It kills more people than 13 fires and floods combined, and people are not aware of it. We need the recognition and the brand and the media attention for heat waves, much like we have done for hurricanes.

SHAPIRO: The naming program will be linked with public health measures like opening cooling centers or reaching out to older people living alone.

MCCAMMON: Some climate and weather scientists have questioned the naming approach. They're concerned that if lots of different named weather events pop up, they'll just become background noise. Baughman McLeod says, we can't afford not to try.

BAUGHMAN MCLEOD: Whatever we're doing is not working. I mean, we had a thousand people die in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. So we have to do something different, and the warning systems we have don't work.

MCCAMMON: She hopes lessons learned in Seville can lead to similar programs around the world.

SHAPIRO: To choose the name, Seville will run a few different options by focus groups.

BAUGHMAN MCLEOD: Human names or flora and fauna or Greek letters.

SHAPIRO: The program is slated to roll out next year, so heat wave Ignacio or Iota or Oso may be headed to southern Spain soon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Christopher Intagliata is an editor at All Things Considered, where he writes news and edits interviews with politicians, musicians, restaurant owners, scientists and many of the other voices heard on the air.
To make informed decisions, the public must receive unbiased truth.

As Southwestern Pennsylvania’s only independent public radio news and information station, we give voice to provocative ideas that foster a vibrant, informed, diverse and caring community.

WESA is primarily funded by listener contributions. Your financial support comes with no strings attached. It is free from commercial or political influence…that’s what makes WESA a free vital community resource. Your support funds important local journalism by WESA and NPR national reporters.

You give what you can, and you get news you can trust.
Please give now to continue providing fact-based journalism — a monthly gift of just $5 or $10 makes a big difference.