Taylor Swift fan died after waiting for her show in a climate-driven heatwave, study finds

Ana Clara Benevides Machado, 23, collapsed and later died in hospital in Rio de Janeiro

Katie Hawkinson
Wednesday 22 November 2023 23:18 GMT
Taylor Swift appears emotional as she returns to Eras Tour stage after fan’s tragic death

Last week, tragedy struck Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour when a 23-year-old fan collapsed while waiting for the show in Brazil, and later died in hospital.

At the time, Rio de Janeiro was in the grips of a record-setting heatwave. On Friday, 17 November, the heat index peaked at 58.8C (138F).

Now, a new report has revealed that heatwave was, in part, the result of the climate crisis that is being driven by emissions from burning of fossil fuels.

High temperatures, a lack of rainfall, and low winds drove the extreme heatwave, all factors caused by human-driven climate change, study co-author Davide Faranda told The Independent.

“It is striking to see a heatwave this severe before meteorological summer has even started in Brazil,” Gabriele Messori, another co-author, told The Independent in an email.

The impacts of the extreme heat were deadly. Ana Clara Benevides Machado, 23, arrived at the Estádio Olímpico Nilton Santos before Swift’s show on 17 November. Shortly before the concert started, she fainted in the front row, according to Brazilian newspaper Folha De S Paulo. She was resuscitated at the venue before being transferred to a nearby hospital where she died of cardiac arrest.

Ana Clara Benevides Machado, 23, died on 17 November after waiting for Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert during a heatwave in Brazil

Videos revealed fans tightly-packed together and chanting for water in the stadium during the show. An estimated 1,000 attendees fainted, according to firefighters, amid reports that people had been banned from bringing water bottles inside.

Messori and Faranda carried out a rapid attribution analysis on the heatwave, which determines the extent to which the climate crisis plays a role in a single weather event.

Temperatures in Rio were up to four degrees warmer last week than they were in the period from 1979-2000, the study found.

The analysis, published by Climameter, found that the natural variability of conditions in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, also contributed to the heatwave.

In Brazil and across South America, temperatures have hit new extremes in 2023, spurring severe droughts and wildfires. As residents cranked their air conditioners, power outages were also reported across Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro this week.

An Eras Tour concertgoer on 18 November helps another attendee cool down by placing a water bottle against the back of their neck

Brazil’s environment and human populations, particularly in the Amazon region, are under severe threats from the climate crisis, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

The entire world also experienced an unprecedented high on Friday. The global average temperature surpassed 2C, above pre-industrial levels, for the first time since records began, according to preliminary data. The breach, while temporary, surpassed the upper warming limit of the Paris Agreement, set to avert the most harmful consequences of the climate crisis.

2023 is on track to be the hottest year in human existence.

Ms Benevides’ death was confirmed on Instagram by Rio show organizers, Time4Fun, last Friday. Swift also posted an Instagram story in reaction to the news.

“I can’t even tell you how devastated I am by this,” Swift wrote. “There’s very little information I have other than the fact she was so incredibly beautiful and far too young.”

A worker distributes water to fans in Rio de Janeiro waiting for Ms Swift’s Eras Tour on 20 November

The singer cancelled her show the following night due to the extreme temperatures but did not connect the extreme heat to the climate crisis in her statements.

The singer, whose popularity largely rests with young fans, has rarely commented on the climate crisis despite her platform. Ms Swift donated the proceeds from her 2015 music video for “Wildest Dreams” to the African Parks Foundation, a conservation non-profit. She also voiced a lead character in “The Lorax,” an animated children’s movie with themes of environmentalism and conservation.

Last year, a study by sustainability firm Yard looking at celebrity emissions described Ms Swift as the “biggest celebrity CO2e polluter”.

Emissions from her private jet were 1,184.8 times higher in 2022 than the average person’s annual carbon emissions, the report claimed. A spokesperson for Ms Swift told Yard it is “blatantly incorrect” to attribute most or all of the trips counted in the study, claiming she regularly lends out her jet to others.

Ms Swift, Time4Fun, Mr Paes and Mr Dino did not respond to The Independent’s requests for comment.

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