New monster heat waves are killing people across the world: the old, children, mothers, simple outdoor workers. A new analysis shows oil and gas production from just five well-known corporations will kill at least 5 million people, and maybe more than 10 million people. The real cost of burning our future with guest researcher Sarah Biermann Becker from Global Witness. Longer, hotter heat waves are here and worse to come. From Utah State University, we speak with co-author of new science – Dr. Wei Zhang. Plus global heat news media leaves out – and two little AI-made climate songs. Pay attention, we will test: are you a human?

I’m Alex Smith. Welcome to another hot edition of Radio Ecoshock.

Listen to or download this Radio Ecoshock show in CD Quality (57 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB)



I am seeing scary things.  The heat in China and especially Japan is just off the charts, beyond any previous records.  The Guardian reports in early April, quote: “Schools close and crops wither as ‘historic’ heatwave hits south-east Asia. Governments across region grappling for response as temperatures soar to unseasonable highs.” Rebecca Ratcliffe writes “Thousands of schools in the Philippines have stopped in-person classes due to unbearable heat. In Indonesia, prolonged dry weather has caused rice prices to soar. In Thailand’s waters, temperatures are so high that scientists fear coral could be destroyed.”


Then there is the African time-bomb.

Zimbabwe just announced a total – 100% – crop failure.  The government is advising people to conserve food. News reports say the United Nations admits it cannot get enough aid in there. A State of Emergency has been declared in neighboring Zambia and Malawi – also suffering through the worst drought in 40 years. This ghastly situation will eventually bubble into Western news for a few seconds.

Famines have wrenching effects beyond hunger and starvation. For example, some parents in the region are selling their children for marriage because they cannot feed them. Young women from Malawi have been scammed into “jobs” in the Middle East as servants, but discover they are trapped as slaves. Deutche Welle TV did a feature on that. Anyone who has enough money for an airline ticket, or for people smugglers, will seek refuge for food and security, maybe where you live. The situation in South and East Africa is heating up. Did we make this mass drought more likely with our emissions? I have not seen climate attribution studies yet, but I’m sure they are out there.


In science there are long waves that travel around the globe, called Rossby waves. The heat and drought wrecking less developed countries is part of different kind of wave. It begins in big fossil fuel burning countries and then carries change everywhere, around the world. Something in Europe causes changes in the rains of Zimbabwe, amplifying a natural cycle into unsurvivable extremes.

Locally, in British Columbia (Prince George news report) people walk their dogs in a caked, dried out river bed that should be a roaring river this time of year.  Fear of wildfires is palpable for the coming summer.  A few already started.

Winter was so mild here, at our house we burned a third less wood than in any of the ten years previous.  My garden is dry and dusty in this April rainy season.  About 80% of the wine and fruit from the renowned Okanagan Valley was killed by a freak cold snap last November.  Fruit prices will be through the roof and some vintners may go out of business.  It takes three to five years to start a new grape orchard, with many ongoing costs and no income.

I lost track of the extent of the coral damage around Australia, there are so many reports. Coral reefs are in their death spiral. They are (or were) the nurseries for about a quarter of all commercial food fisheries, and a billion dollar tourist draw for Australia. Maybe wondrous corals have a right to exist even outside the economy or edutainment? It’s too bad people in every city near and far are killing them off. The ripple effects of ocean warming and marine heat waves will be surprising and extensive. None of that makes the news.


Before we go to our guests a program note and a nagging question. Can I replace Alex Smith with computer-based intelligence? I’ve looked into it.

We begin with a test of two AI’s designed to write complete songs from a few words prompted by the user human. I’m going to play you two short examples with all the instruments and voices generated by AI. The lyrics on one song were written by a human, and the other by AI. This only takes two minutes. See if you can tell who is “real”? I will reveal the answer at the end of this show, and post the lyrics in my show blog, published Wednesdays at So here we go two AI climate songs:

Listen to or download song clip Warming AI (1 min 38 sec CD Quality)

Listen to or download song clip Warming AI2 (44 sec CD Quality)


You can use these songs for any non-commercial purpose. At the end of the blog, I will tell you which AI created those climate song clips, and which lyrics were written by a human.

Let’s get to our guests.




America has never produced more oil and gas than today. Let’s translate that booming success into people who will die because of it. Analysis by the non-profit group Global Witness finds products from major Western-owned oil and gas corporations will kill millions of people around the world. Mass heat deaths have already arrived, and the big heat kills are yet to come. Nobody reports that on their balance sheet.

Global Witness does. We reached Senior Investigator and author of the new analysis Sarah Biermann Becker.

Listen to or download this 24 minute interview with Sarah Biermann-Becker in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Usually we find emissions assigned to countries. New in this Global Witness analysis, is calculating direct deaths from corporations selling fossil fuels. Some of these corporations have budgets bigger than poorer countries where more heat victims live.

This report highlights the impact of emissions from just five major fossil fuel companies: Shell, TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil, BP, and Chevron. These super majors continue to extract and consume oil and gas, despite mounting evidence of their devastating effects.

Sarah tells us:

This is a key point for us, what we wanted to look at in our analysis: the companies that are responsible for producing fossil fuels because they bare a large chunk of responsibility for climate change in many ways. They produce fossil fuels. They have also prevented climate action towards transitioning to renewables by spreading climate change denial and lobbying against alternatives. And we selected these five companies because they are the five largest integrated private sector oil and gas companies based on revenue in 2023.

There is also the fact that the five companies we selected are headquartered in the West. We have a better chance of getting them to change because that’s their home base and organizational work force. There are lots of other oil companies around the world doing this as well and they also bear responsibility and this does not absolve other oil companies of it. It’s just that we wanted to highlight these five oil company contributions.

The Global Witness Press Release is here.

Of this report, Co-Pilot AI summarizes: “ If these companies persist in their current trajectory, their emissions could lead to an estimated 11.5 million premature deaths by 2100 due to extreme heat.

During the interview, we discuss large numbers of uncounted heat deaths in India. As David Fickling of Bloomberg reported June 21, 2023: “India Has No Idea How Many People Its Heat Waves Are Killing”. The Indian Press (Express News Service) reportsIMD [Indian Meteorology Department] warns of heatwave spells lasting 10-20 days in April-June.”

These millions of deaths are just from a few Western-based corporations. We know there will be millions more deaths from production in Russia, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Canada, Australia – the whole list.

The world’s largest integrated oil and gas company is Aramco, based in Saudi Arabia. In Houston March 18 the head of Aramco, CEO Amin Nasser told a conference,: “We should abandon the fantasy of phasing out oil and gas, and instead invest in them adequately, reflecting realistic demand assumptions.” He got applause from oil execs in the room. When I hear that, I think of this report by Global Witness – that millions of people far away, with no profit, will suffer, starve and die of horrible heat. How can the fossil fuel industry just keep making money when we know who pays with their lives?

It’s rich that the Saudi’s proclaim the renewables revolution dead and impossible, while they limit international climate deals and along with their industry, fund criticism and backlash against wind and solar, their competitors. They are not helping.

Part of the method of calculating deaths due to fossil fuel production and use by the five “majors” in oil and gas production employs a model released in a paper published July 29, 2021 in Nature Communications. Titled: “The mortality cost of carbon” the model was developed by R. Daniel Bressler at Columbia.  This is Open Access (free to read).

So it’s weird. Big companies, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, with shares held by millions of people, are expanding production of greenhouse gas fuels. We can see other millions of people will die because of that in coming years. Do people with cars and holiday flights really want to know? It can be hard to get these basic hard facts out into the media-entertainment bubble.


A new report finds 80% of the world’s CO2 emissions are produced by just 57 companies. The Carbon Majors group tracks real responsibility every year. Surely 57 companies could transition, contract, or shut down, slashing most greenhouse gases. That could save the world as we know it, along with all co-species. It sounds worth it.




Do you think heat waves are coming more often, and sticking around longer? You are not wrong. The first global study of heat during climate change is out. In prestigious Science Advances, the title is: “Anthropogenic forcing has increased the risk of longer-traveling and slower-moving large contiguous heatwaves”. This is information you need to know.

We reached co-author Wei Zhang, Assistant Professor at Utah State University. Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on climate modeling, extreme weather events, and the impacts of anthropogenic factors on our environment. He earned his Ph.D. in Tropical Cyclone Dynamics and Modeling from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2011 and has since made significant contributions to our understanding of climate change.

Listen to or download this 20 minute interview with Wei Zhang in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Years ago, heat waves happened but they did not last long. The government of India just released a warning to expect extreme heat lasting ten to twenty days at a time. All of my listeners have experienced more extreme heat – lasting longer – in the last few years.

Unlike big storms or tornadoes we can see, heat waves are almost like living systems. Heat develops, grows or dissipates, and “propagates” as it moves across large landscapes. But this intriguing new science shows the way heat moves has changed along with the climate. Mainly, big envelopes of heat travel more slowly. That is far more dangerous for people, animals, and plants down below. Vulnerable people may survive a day or two of heat, but not a week of it, especially if nights do not cool down. Doctors and scientists on this program told us the longer the heat wave, the more people show up in hospital emergency rooms.

In 2021, a deadly heat dome settled over the Pacific Northwest. People huddled indoors and hundreds died. The awful heat seemed to stall overhead. This is a new phenomenon and there is now evidence global warming is part cause of slow-moving heat.

Diagrams in the paper suggest the largest most intense changes in heat waves are not in the topics where it is already hot, but in the temperate zones of north America and Eurasia, plus Australia and the southern tip of South America. Is this because a heat wave becomes evident with a change of temperature above normal? We know there are serious heat waves across the Sahel right now, with countries like Burkina Faso going above human tolerance even in the shade.

This study is an assessment of heat wave changes over the past forty years. They do not make predictions for the next forty. But we can see the direction of changes for heat already.


It is time for the AI reveal. The first longer song, called “Warming AI” was written entirely by This was the best song-writing site so far. I also tried but found the music there was bad. I just need to refine how I use it, because others have produced decent songs there. The lyrics I got from this AI were also poor. But as you heard, the quality of their vocal was outstanding. I’ve used computer-generated voices for over 20 years, and that was the best I’ve heard. I hastily wrote the lyrics for the second song clip.

You could strip the vocal out of any song with free tools. You could generate your vocal in one AI and develop it in a couple of others. Free AI is a playground now. I will probably make some new songs for the show.

As a former musician myself, and a friend to other musicians, I hear a big change coming for creators who are already struggling to survive. Is AI a culture killer, a gift to humans, or both?

Listen to or download this AI song about that! (1 minute) (not in the radio show)



At first it sounds like I can retire and let AI produce Radio Ecoshock. Theoretically it would not be that hard. It depends on the second step of AI which is in it’s baby stage now: the development of “agents” that anybody can use, without computer skills.

Step One: The Ecoshock “agent” would scan thousands of science journals, press feeds, YouTube and social media to develop guests. So I asked Microsoft Co-Pilot (free version) to suggest guests for this program. Co-pilot produced a list of ten people, eight of who were already on the show in the last year or two. Co-pilot just mirrored back my own program. I tried fine-tuning it, but really this AI is operating in a limited box, namely the internal data it already scanned. When I complained to Co-Pilot, it said the AI had no direct access to the Net, but operated on internalized data. The search was incredibly shallow. Total fail on this one.

I had a bit more luck with a better question and using the AI called “Perplexity”. So far it has been free for a few searches. Perplexity also suggested ten guests. Three were already on Radio Ecoshock. Four of them were new to me and viable. I will write them with invitations to the show. That was helpful.

Step Two: Conduct the interview. The AI should arrange a phone call or Net connection, engage with the guest, record it, and clean up any errors, shrinking the production to 58 minutes and so on. There is no such agent, but it all sounds very possible, say within a year or two, using an AI Agent. We already have free transcription from audio to text with an AI app used in the free audio editor Audacity.

Step Three: Distribute and post the show. That should be easy for an AI.

Software is already out there to clone my broadcasting voice. So the AI interviews would sound like me, maybe only better. The Alex AI could do foreign language interviews and translate them, or produce a few dozen versions of Radio Ecoshock in many languages, every week, to really get the climate message out to all. Maybe the AI could do a daily radio program.

How many listeners would be human, and how many other AIs and agents looking for data fodder? Would AI’s listening be more likely to refine their algorithms in the direction of reducing emissions, waste, and toxicity? Or would they create hundreds of parallel fake Radio Ecoshock productions directed by fossil billionaires? Surely an AI will have time to analyze the audience to maximize attention (something I’ve never had time or talent for).

Two last things: like millions of others I am playing with AI to see how it can help me produce and improve this program and… the future looks looks fuzzy and unstable. What will Alex Smith do when AI replaces him? What will you do?

Many thanks to everyone who donated recently to help pay the costs of keeping Radio Ecoshock going.  You are the sole providers!  There is no secret billionaire, advertising, or government grants.  Listeners like you help carry the load.  Please donate if you can.

I’m Alex Smith. Thank you for listening and caring about our world.