It’s imperative that cities are redesigned for an era of extreme heat, the world’s first global chief heat officer at UN Habitat told Bloomberg News in a recent podcast.
“We call heat the silent killer,” said Eleni Myrivil, who was appointed jointly by the UN agency and the Arsht-Rock Resilience Center. “Because of all the extreme climate events that are linked to climate change, heat is the number one killer.”
By mid-century, nearly 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, and the number communities facing average summer high temperatures of 35°C or higher will triple to nearly 1,000, Bloomberg writes. “Lack of vegetation, high levels of traffic, and the use of heat-absorbent concrete, glass, and steel all contribute to what’s known as the urban heat island effect, which can result in cities being several degrees hotter than surrounding rural areas,” the news agency writes.
Cities like London, Delhi, and Singapore have all posted record high temperatures in recent years, Bloomberg adds.
“The centres of our cities, the way they’re built today, are death traps,” Myrivil told Bloomberg reporter Akshat Rathi and podcast producer Oscar Boyd. Her toolbox of solutions includes bringing more water to the surface, planting more trees, and naming and categorizing heat waves the same as hurricanes, to help draw attention to their impact.
Click here for Bloomberg’s full podcast interview with Eleni Myrivil.