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10 Sweatiest Cities in America

Climate
10 Sweatiest Cities in America

Summer is in full swing in the U.S. and some cities are known for baking in the summer heat—and the heat island effect and climate change have only made that worse. Kaz and Helen of Troy Limited, probably best known as the makers of Honeywell products, in partnership with Environmental Health & Engineering, released a first-ever report last month that ranks the top 10 sweatiest U.S. cities based on factors including temperature, humidity, population, housing density and wind speed.

Does your city make the cut as one of the sweatiest in America?
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Obviously heat and humidity play a large role in how much city residents sweat, but how cities are designed also plays a less obvious role.

"Geographic location has a major influence on temperatures, but so does infrastructure like residential buildings or heavy industry, which can trap heat or contribute to heat output," said Dr. Ted Myatt, ScD, Environmental Health & Engineering. Many parts of the globe have experienced record heat in recent months including India, Pakistan, Alaska and the Western U.S.

The findings of this report come on the heels of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the American Meteorological Society's annual State of the Climate report, which found that ocean and land surface temperatures were the highest on record for 2014. Last year was a staggering year for records (and not the good kind) and 2015 is shaping up to be the hottest year to date by far.

So, if you live in one of these cities, best of luck to you because you've got a lot more sweaty summers in your future:

Top 10 Sweatiest Cities in America

Honeywell Fans teamed up with Environmental Health & Engineering to determine the sweatiest cities in America. (Photo/boumenjapet/iStock/Thinkstock)

10. Charlotte, North Carolina

With an average July temperature of 78.5 degrees, the 17th most populated city in the U.S. made it on the list. (Photo/alex grichenko/iStock/ThinkStock)

9. Dallas, Texas

With the highest average July temperature out of all 10 cities that made the cut, Dallas residents cope with highs near 86 degrees at the peak of summer. (Photo/dibrova/iStock/Thinkstock)

8. Los Angeles, California

The second most populated city in the country made it onto the list. (Photo/SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock)

7. Raleigh, North Carolina

Average peak summer temperatures close to 81 degrees helped put North Carolina's second most populated city on the list. (Photo/Sean Pavone/iStock/Thinkstock)

6. Washington, D.C.

A dense population and average July temperatures near 80 degrees gave Washington, D.C., its ranking on the list. (Photo/f11photo/iStock/Thinkstock)

5. Orlando, Florida

Sitting in a climate ripe with humidity, Orlando's July temperatures average at nearly 83 degrees. (Photo/dosecreative/iStock/Thinkstock)

4. San Diego, California

The eighth most populated city in the U.S. made it onto the list with peak summer temperatures hitting near the 70-degree mark. (Photo/Fuse/iStock/Thinkstock)

3. Houston, Texas

High humidity combined with average July temperatures of nearly 84 degrees put Houston in the top three. (Photo/voshadhi/iStock/Thinkstock)

2. Miami, Florida

In Miami, average temperatures in July hit close to the 84-degree mark and Florida's geographic location fuels high humidity levels. (Photo/FotoMak/iStock/Thinkstock)

1. Tampa, Florida

With an average July temperature of 82.8 degrees, Tampa, residents are in a prime location for sweat-inducing humidity. (Photo/Judy Kennamer/iStock/Thinkstock)

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The world-famous wildlife broadcaster and his royal sidekick appear to have played an active role in the prize's inception, and media coverage has focused largely on them as the faces of the campaign.

But the pair are only the frontmen of a much larger movement which has been in development for several years. In addition to a panel of experts who will decide on the winners, the prize's formation took advice from the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the Jack Ma Foundation.

With more and more global attention on the climate crisis, celebrity endorsement of environmental causes has become more common. But why do environmental causes recruit famous faces for their campaigns? And what difference can it make?

'Count Me In'

"We need celebrities to reach those people who we cannot reach ourselves," says Sarah Marchildon from the United Nations Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany.

Marchildon is a proponent of the use of celebrities to raise awareness of environmental causes. In addition to promoting a selection of climate ambassadors who represent the UN on sustainability issues, Marchildon's team has produced videos with well-known narrators from the entertainment world: among them, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," Marchildon explains.

"Sometimes they reach out to us themselves, as David Attenborough did recently. And then they can promote the videos on their own social channels which reach more people than we do — for example, if they have 20 million followers and we have 750,000."

Environmental groups focused on their own domestic markets are also taking this approach. One Germany-based organization that uses celebrities in campaigns is the German Zero NGO. Set up in 2019, it advocates for a climate-neutral Germany by 2035.

German Zero produced a video in March 2020 introducing the campaign with "66 celebrities" that supported the campaign, among them Deutschland 83 actor Jonas Nay and former professional footballer Andre Schürrle. They solicit support as well as financial contributions from viewers.

"Count me in," they say, pointing toward the camera. "You too?"

"We are incredibly grateful for the VIPs in our videos," says German Zero spokeswoman Eva-Maria McCormack.

Assessing Success Is Complex

But quantifying the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement of campaigns is not a straightforward process.

"In order to measure effectiveness, first of all you need to define what is meant by success," says Alegria Olmedo, a researcher at the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford.

Olmedo is the author of a study looking at a range of campaigns concerning pangolin consumption, fronted by local and Western celebrities, in Vietnam and China. But she says her biggest stumbling block was knowing how to measure a campaign's success.

"You need a clear theory of change," explains Olmedo. "Have the celebrities actually helped in achieving the campaign's goals? And how do you quantify these goals? Maybe it is increased donations or higher engagement with a cause."

A popular campaign in China in recent years saw famous chefs Zhao Danian and Shu Yi pledge to abstain from cooking endangered wildlife. While the pledge achieved widespread recognition, both Olmedo and Marchildon say it's difficult to know whether it made any difference to people's actions.

"In life we see a thousand messages every day, and it is very hard to pinpoint whether one campaign has actually made a difference in people's behavior," she explains.

Awareness Is Not Enough

Many campaigns that feature celebrities focus on raising awareness rather than on concrete action — which, for researcher Olmedo, raises a further problem in identifying effectiveness.

"Reach should never be a success outcome," she says. "Many campaigns say they reached a certain number of people on social media. But there has been a lot of research that shows that simply giving people information does not mean they are actually going to remember it or act upon it."

But anecdotal evidence from campaigns may suggest reach can make an active difference.

"Our VIP video is by far the most watched on our social media channels," McCormack from German Zero says. "People respond to it very directly. A lot of volunteers of all ages heard about us through that video."

However, some marketing studies have shown that celebrity endorsement of a cause or product can distract from the issue itself, as people only remember the person, not the content of what they were saying.

Choosing the Right Celebrity

Celebrity choice is also very important. Campaigns that use famous faces are often aiming to appeal to members of the public who do not necessarily follow green issues.

For certain campaigns with clear target audiences, choosing a climate scientist or well-known environmentalist rather than a celebrity could be more appealing — Attenborough is a classic example. For others, images and videos involving cute animals may be more likely to get a message heard than attaching a famous face.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," says Marchildon from the UN. "You need figures with credibility."

McCormack cites the example of Katharine Hayhoe, an environmental scientist who is also an evangelical Christian. In the southern United States, Hayhoe has become a celebrity in her own right, appealing to an audience that might not normally be interested in the messages of climate scientists.

But as soon as you get a celebrity involved, campaigns also put themselves at risk of the whims of that celebrity. Prince William and younger members of the royal family have come under fire in recent years for alleged hypocrisy for their backing of environmental campaigns while simultaneously using private jets to fly around the world.

But Does It Really Work?

While environmental campaigns hope that endorsement from well-known figures can boost a campaign, there is little research to back this up.

"The biggest finding [from my study] was that we were unable to produce any evidence that shows that celebrity endorsement of environmental causes makes any difference," says Olmedo.

This will come as a blow to many campaigns that have invested time and effort into relationships with celebrity ambassadors. But for many, the personal message that many celebrities offer in videos like that produced by German Zero and campaigns like the Earthshot Prize are what counts.

The research may not prove this conclusively — but if the public believes a person they respect deeply personally cares about an important issue, they are perhaps more likely to care too.

"I personally believe in the power this can have," says Marchildon. "And if having a celebrity involved can get a single 16-year-old future leader thinking about environmentalist issues — that is enough."

Reposted with permission from DW.

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