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Unprecedented Heat, Heat Illnesses and DEI Programs: What I’m Reading This Week

June 7, 2024
A look at some environmental, social and governance (ESG) related news of note.

It’s been a busy week, and I know things are about to get even more hectic.

Planning for the Safety Leadership Conference and America’s Safest Companies of 2024 is fully underway. Soon, we’ll start planning for 2025. I can assure you, there are plenty of exciting things in store for you, dear EHS Today reader. Be sure to subscribe to our magazine and newsletters as well as follow us on social media for more details!

And, on a personal note, our social calendar is booking well into July. We have two barbecues this weekend. I love dining al fresco with friends; however, I really need to landscape. Those weeds really are growing like weeds.

There’s plenty of projects to tackle inside and outside the home. I’m trying to remind myself that everything doesn’t need to be done all at once. Even if it was, I’d find some other ways to keep myself busy.

I hope you’re able to savor these sunsets and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones. Until next time, be well and stay safe!


Unprecedented Heat

Earth has seen 12 consecutive months of unprecedented heat, according to new data from Copernicus, the European Union’s climate monitoring service.

The June 2023 to May 2024 heat streak was “shocking but not surprising” given human-caused climate change, said Carlo Buontempo, the director of Copernicus. He also warned that  “this string of hottest months will be remembered as comparatively cold” unless we cut our carbon emissions.

The average global temperature over the past 12 months was 1.63 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Already this year, India has seen temperatures above 122 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in several deaths.  A heatwave in Mexico caused howler monkeys to drop dead from the trees.

“In the case of climate, we are not the dinosaurs,” said United Nations Secretary General António Guterres in a speech about climate change. “We are the meteor. We are not only in danger. We are the danger.”

Read more about the report and see photos of the effects of climate change here.  


Responding to Heat Illnesses

It’s early June, and Pheonix is already seeing triple digit temperatures. Last year, there were 645 heat-related deaths in Maricopa County, the majority of them in Pheonix.

Officials have seen a significant rise in severe heat illness over the past three years, and about 40% of patients do not survive. So, starting this spring, the Pheonix Fire Department will immerse heatstroke victims in ice on the way to a hospital.

Human-sized immersion bags and ice will be standard equipment on all Pheonix fire department emergency vehicles. The practice, known as cold water immersion, is used by marathon runners and military service members but hasn’t been used much by hospitals or emergency responders. At least, not yet.

But with more heatwaves and changing weather patterns due to climate change, keeping cool can be a matter of life and death.

Learn more here.


DEI Carries on

Programs designed to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive (DEI) workplace have faced plenty of attacks and criticisms in the past year. But companies will continue their efforts, according to a new survey from executive search firm Bridge Partners.

In fact, 72% of surveyed corporate and human resources leaders in the U.S. plan to increase their commitment to DEI within the next two years, while only 4% plan to cut back or eliminate their programs.

What’s more, less than half of respondents (46%) believe their executive team fully reflects the diversity of their employee and customer base, while about 25% believe DEI programs are “one-sided, biased, and potentially a fad that will go away.”

"It's encouraging to see that, despite the near-constant attacks on DEI programs in the last year, business leaders are still focused on the facts — that diverse teams, equitable hiring processes, and inclusive cultures are all valuable drivers of stronger organizations," said Tory Clarke, co-founder, and partner at Bridge Partners in a statement. "Our data shows not only do business leaders recognize the value of DEI, they are prepared to invest in it. Beyond the battles and debates on acronyms and nomenclature, DEI has always been about more than just words – it's an investment in the people, approach, and culture that will drive impact, be that financial or social return, and there is still more work to be done."

One other interesting finding from the survey: nearly all respondents (94%) believe DEI is important for its positive impact on recruiting, hiring and retention.

Read the press release here and download the free report here.

About the Author

Nicole Stempak

Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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