The Times podcast: Extreme heat, the silent killer

A woman takes a thermal photograph as a mail carrier walks in the background
Edith de Guzman, a UCLA researcher and director of the Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative, takes a thermal photograph on a street in Pacoima.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Every year, people in the American West die from scorching temperatures. Experts fear that the number of deaths is undercounted — and that as the climate continues to heat up, the death rate will rise.

Officially, California says 599 people died due to heat exposure from 2010 to 2019. But a Los Angeles Times investigation estimates the number is much higher: about 3,900 deaths.

Today we talk to Tony Barboza and Anna M. Phillips, who along with Sean Greene and Ruben Vives, spearheaded the L.A. Times investigation. We discuss why their count is so different from the state’s, who’s most vulnerable to the heat and how to protect yourself.


Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guests: L.A. Times editorial writer Tony Barboza, who until this month was a reporter covering air quality, and environmental policy reporter Anna M. Phillips

More reading:

Heat waves are far deadlier than we think. How California neglects this climate threat

Climate change is supercharging California heat waves, and the state isn’t ready

Poor neighborhoods bear the brunt of extreme heat, ‘legacies of racist decision-making’

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producers Denise Guerra and Shannon Lin and producer Melissa Kaplan. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.