Climate journalist Jeff Goodell discusses his new book on the risks of rising temperatures
Goodell spoke at the University of Florida about his new book, "The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet."
Climate journalist Jeff Goodell said that some people have described his new nonfiction book as a “horror novel” because it details the destructive power of extreme heat on the human body.
Goodell said he wants readers to understand the risks that everyone faces as global temperatures continue to rise. His book, “The Heat Will Kill You First: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet,” includes stories of people who have died from heatstroke, such as a couple and their 1-year-old daughter who died during a hike in California.
“It really shows that heat is something that is dangerous to everyone,” Goodell said Wednesday during a speech at the University of Florida in Gainesville. “It’s not just dangerous to people who have weak hearts or to farmworkers. It is dangerous to all of us — even if we think we know what we’re doing, even if we’re aware of the heat, even if we have water with us.”
Goodell is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone magazine and the author of several books on issues connected to climate change. He said that such problems as increasing wildfires, more widespread crop failure from drought and the growing spread of mosquito-borne diseases are all related to rising global temperatures.
He noted that his new book even includes a chapter on Antarctica, where just a 1-degree temperature increase can cause ice melting that significantly raises sea levels.
“Even small changes in temperature have huge implications,” he said.
His book was published this past summer, which was the hottest in recorded history. Goodell said the burning of fossil fuels is emitting carbon dioxide that persists in the atmosphere over the long term, causing the planet to be hotter even if those emissions are immediately stopped.
“It’s really important when we think about climate change to understand that we are in a new climate era,” he said.
But he said he remained hopeful due to such developments as decreasing costs for solar power and other clean energy. Climate change provides us with an opportunity to do better, Goodell said, through such improvements as designing buildings and cities to keep residents cool and comfortable.
“We are not doomed as long as we take action,” he said.
Nathan Crabbe is editor of The Invading Sea. Sign up for The Invading Sea newsletter by visiting here.
This story was produced in partnership with the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a multi-newsroom initiative founded by the Miami Herald, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post, the Orlando Sentinel, WLRN Public Media and the Tampa Bay Times.