Tuesday the 18th of May

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

Name heatwaves after shameful companies

Heatwaves should be named after fossil fuel companies in order to name and shame them, a Catholic environmentalist has suggested.

Ellen Teague, of the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, said the extreme weather events should be named after such companies that have undermined climate change action in order to raise awareness of the causes of climate change.

Mrs Teague’s recommendation comes after Bob Ward, director of policy at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said the Met Office should start naming heatwaves, like it has for winter storms since 2015, to help warn people about severe weather.

“Well, now that heatwaves are more common and more severe then it might be a good idea to name them,” Mrs Teague told The Catholic Universe. “But what about giving them the names of fossil fuel companies that have undermined climate change action for years: say Heatwave ExxonMobil or Heatwave Royal Dutch Shell or Heatwave Anglo American. This would not only clarify different weather systems but raise awareness of the causes of the heatwaves. Companies that take fossil fuels from the ground and place them in the atmosphere, and so raising global temperatures, should be named and shamed.”

Mrs Teague reiterated that “drastic action” is needed now.

“If you think we suffer in exceptionally hot weather, think of a Columban missionary in Pakistan who reported in May that people were trying to cope with temperatures exceeding 50 degrees centigrade – 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Hundreds died as a result of the searing temperatures, and combine that with the linked problems of droughts and water shortages. People were collapsing in the streets and begging for water. Of course, it was the poor who were the most affected.

“Scientists say the frequency of extreme heatwaves in the future will depend a lot on our ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming. Let’s name them and prepare for them, but, most of all, initiate rapid and drastic changes to industry and lifestyle around the world.”

The Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change recently warned that the UK was not prepared for a future of more heatwaves, with more action needed to prevent overheating in homes, hospitals and schools, and that even vulnerable people did not consider themselves at risk.

Last summer’s heatwaves led to 863 excess deaths, Public Health England has estimated.

Mr Ward said: “Far more people have died from recent heatwaves than from storms, so it should be uncontroversial to start applying names to both.

“The Government and its agencies, including the Met Office, must lead the way in communicating the growing dangers of heatwaves and other impacts of climate change, so that the British public are better informed and can protect themselves.”

Picture: The sun rises at Cullercoats Bay on the north east coast. (Owen Humphreys/PA).