The ‘Taylor Swift effect’ provides water amid life-threatening heat waves in Brazil.    

 For years, Brazilian meteorologist Núbia Beray Armond has warned about Rio de Janeiro's need for a heat plan, including water delivery. Before a terrible Taylor Swift concert, interest was low, but now her phone rings nonstop.

Last November, right before summer in the Southern Hemisphere, Swift's concert in southeast Brazil was plagued by a heat wave. Tens of thousands of “Swifties” waited hours under the sun, some under umbrellas. Swift stopped her performance to ask personnel for water for a group of thirsty fans. Not everyone was lucky. Ana Clara Benevides, 23, died from cardiorespiratory arrest from heat exposure at the concert.

Outrage followed her death. Many concertgoers complained that organizers didn't provide enough water. The fatality was intolerable, and Brazil's justice minister ordered huge event organizers to provide water during heat waves. Others were inspired to legalize water access, indicating that Brazilian authorities now saw it as a public health issue in a hotter world.

Rio is ahead. A third of the over 100 legislation circulating in local, state, and federal legislatures are in Rio state, including the capital, according to Governmental Radar, which called it “the Taylor Swift effect.” Several bills are named after Benevides. Niteroi, in Rio's metropolitan area, was the first to mandate water for huge events.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Benevides' death was a turning point in Rio's public administration's water distribution issue," said Beray Armond, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro GeoClima lab coordinator and Indiana University Bloomington researcher. Brazil has had a very oppressive summer. The government's weather institute reported nine heat waves in 2023 and three since January.

The day of Swift's concert, the heat index reached a record 59.3 degrees Celsius (138 Fahrenheit). Four times subsequently, including Sunday's 62.3 degrees Celsius (144 Fahrenheit) heat index during the March 11-18 heat wave.

Rio residents sought relief at Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. People dove into the surf while thousands of multicolored parasols floated. However, 43-year-old Eduardo Alves de Castro struggled to relax.

We worry about the trajectory of these high temperatures. The worry is that it never ends. We are privileged to cool off in front of the ocean, but there are individuals in a far worse circumstance who are more affected,” Castro said. During heat waves, people who can't afford 24/7 air conditioning take many showers a day, depleting a common tank or raising water expenses.

Many favela residents didn't pay for water until three private companies took concessions in 2021 and installed water meters. In an email, Waters of Rio, the largest, stated it has delivered water to 300,000 more people since taking control.

stay turned for development