Meteorologist Puts Heat on Fossil Fuel Companies by Naming Heat Waves After Them


Aug. 14 2023, Published 4:03 p.m. ET

BP gas station sign in front of a blue sky
Source: Getty Images

As heat waves sweep nations around the world with more frequency and more deadly impact, many want to place blame. And so, one meteorologist who previously worked for the Weather Channel has begun naming significant heat waves after major oil companies.

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Not all heat waves qualify for a fossil-fuel inspired name, as meteorologist Guy Walton has a system in place. Walton explained his reasoning on his blog Guy On Climate. Keep reading for a look into why he named certain heat waves after fossil fuel companies.

Chevron gas station
Source: Getty Images

One major heat wave has been named Chevron to draw attention to fossil fuel companies' role in climate change.

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Walton has named three heat waves after oil companies in 2023.

Per a Forbes article, meteorologist Guy Walton named three heat waves after petroleum companies. As of August 2023, he's named Heat Wave Amoco, Heat Wave BP, and Heat Wave Chevron, based on the idea of blaming oil companies for how bad the climate emergency has become.

Walton wrote on his blog: "This year, as promised, we are going to poke a little fun at oil companies by using their names to name heat waves."

“Petroleum companies are a big reason why heat waves have been getting worse year after year for the past forty years, at least, due to carbon pollution from the burning of their products," Walton wrote on Guy On Climate.

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people selling water during heat wave
Source: Getty Images

Walton, a meteorologist with 30 years of experience with the Weather Channel, is going through a Wikipedia list of 20 major oil exploration and production companies in alphabetical order to name heat waves. According to Forbes, he's created five categories of heat waves, with Categories 3, 4, and 5 qualifying for a fossil fuel company name.

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Walton wants weather forecasters and the media to be clearer that fossil fuel burning is linked to extreme heat, per The Guardian. “I realize what I’m doing is controversial and corporate media will want to steer clear of it, but people need to be riled up," said Walton, as per the news outlet.

People hold umbrellas on a sunny day in New York City
Source: Getty Images

People hold umbrellas during the start of heat wave across the U.S. on July 19, 2019 in New York City.

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Will official organizations ever name heat waves after oil companies?

According to The Guardian, the massive World Meteorological Organization won't use Walton's system for naming heat waves. The organization said there isn't a fixed definition of heat waves, and this type of naming could "misdirect" public and media attention away from how to manage heat waves safely.

A former meteorologist, Chris Gloninger, told The Guardian he understood the idea of naming heat waves. “But I’d have a concern about naming them after oil companies,” he said. “It’s already such a politicized issue and it would give people dismissive about climate change more ammunition. I’d fear it would turn people off.”

Gloninger knows about such risks, having quit his job after receiving death threats for talking about climate change on TV.

Who is Guy Walton?

Walton, who writes the Guy on Climate blog, worked for the Weather Channel for about three decades. According to his "About" page, he received a bachelor's degree in meteorology from Florida State University in 1983.

On the blog on Aug. 13, 2023, Walton mentioned a fourth heat wave hitting the Pacific Northwest, which he said he's dubbing "Heat Wave Citgo." He also suggested the second half of Aug. 2023 could bring the worst heat wave of the year in some areas.

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