Fainting UPS Drivers And Climate Change

Are corporations really ready for climate change?

Clive Thompson
4 min readSep 1, 2022


How much are today’s companies seriously preparing for climate change?

I thought about this while pondering a recent grim piece in the New York Times about UPS drivers collapsing from working in increasingly unbearable heat.

Most smaller UPS trucks aren’t air conditioned, and in the package-carrying area the temperatures can rise as high as 150 degrees — as photos of thermometers the drivers have shared on social media attest. The reporter Livia Albeck-Ripka found that at least 270 UPS and USPS drivers have been sickened or hospitalized from heat exposure.

One is the 26-year-old Nicholas Gubell, a UPS driver who was on his route in Long Island when he collapsed in the heat. Paramedics had to cover him in ice packs to get his temperature down. “People are dropping like flies out here,” he told the Times. “It’s very brutal.”

Indeed. As Albeck-Rupak writes:

Last year, Jose Cruz Rodriguez Jr., a 23-year-old UPS driver in Mr. Reeves’s local, was found dead in the company’s parking lot in Waco, Texas, just days after starting the job. In June, a 24-year-old UPS driver, Esteban David Chavez Jr., died while delivering packages in Pasadena, Calif., about 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Last month, another of the company’s workers was captured in footage from a Ring doorbell, stumbling and collapsing outside a home in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Or consider the story of Tony Bell, a UPS driver in Texas …

“There’s only so much a body can handle,” Tony Bell .. said. Mr. Bell, 45, was hospitalized for heat exposure and renal failure after working his route on a 103-degree day in July.

That day, he drank 12 bottles of water and a Gatorade. He said that doctors later told him that he had come extremely close to a heart attack. “I was scared that was it,” he said.

Or course, it’s not possible to blame any individual day of blistering heat on climate change.

But wow, the overall trendline has been hotter and hotter. As Albeck-Rupak notes, the 2018 National Climate Assessment — a big data crunch of climate trends by 13 federal agencies —…



Clive Thompson

I write 2X a week on tech, science, culture — and how those collide. Writer at NYT mag/Wired; author, “Coders”. @clive@saturation.social clive@clivethompson.net