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The Heat Will Kill You First
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Publishers Weekly Review
Heatstroke, infectious disease, and attacks by starving polar bears are among the perils posed by rising temperatures, according to this startling report. Rolling Stone contributing editor Goodell (The Water Will Come) surveys how extreme heat is ravaging the planet, describing the 2021 wildfire that tore through the town of Lytton in British Columbia during an unprecedented 121 °F heat wave, the sudden deaths by overheating of a California family out for a hike in California's Sierra Nevada foothills, and the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes into warming regions. The author also details how his own life has been affected by climate change, as when he recounts a trip he took with friends to the Canadian Arctic, where they were shadow ed by polar bears that were likely hungry and eyeing the group's food because the lack of ice floes made it difficult to hunt seals. The alarming case studies are well complemented by elegant reportage on overheated regions ("The air feels solid, a hazy, ozone-soaked curtain of heat," he writes of a summer day in Phoenix) and disturbing explanations of the dire physical effects of excessive heat (a 107 °F body temperature melts cell membranes). The result is a sobering assessment of the risks of global warming. (July)
Kirkus Review
A noted environmental journalist examines the effects of extreme heat on our lives and future generations. In this gripping examination, Goodell, a Rolling Stone contributing editor and author of The Water Will Come and Big Coal, demonstrates the deleterious effects of rising temperatures and the frightening possibilities of what lies ahead if we don't take immediate, globally coordinated action. Rather than simply providing scientific data to support his claims, the author provides an intimate look at the effects of our planet's warming on individual lives. Among them is the heartbreaking story of Sebastian Perez, a migrant worker from Guatemala who succumbed to heat exhaustion while working in the fields of Willamette Valley, Oregon, a location once considered a refuge from extreme heat. Goodell argues for legislation to protect vulnerable outdoor workers from unsafe conditions; investigates how hotter weather will lead to a decline in food production, which will make feeding the rapidly increasing global population more difficult; and looks at the decrease in mountain snowpack, which is already taking a toll on the water supply of the American Southwest. As the temperature of our planet continues to rise, we also face greater risks related to mosquito-borne and other infectious diseases. Rising temperatures increase the chance of ice-sheet collapse in the polar regions, resulting in rising sea levels and catastrophic damage to low-lying coastal cities. With the extreme weather conditions experienced in recent years throughout the world, including heat waves in Paris, prolonged drought followed by widespread flooding in California, and more frequent ice storms in Texas, climate change denial is no longer an option. "Making the necessary changes will be hard; it will require political leadership and a deeper understanding of our connection with one another and with the world we live in," writes Goodell. "But it is not beyond our reach." Yet another stark, crucial reminder that we are running out of time to save humankind. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

New York Times best-selling journalist Jeff Goodell presents a "masterful, bracing" (David Wallace-Wells) examination of the impact that temperature rise will have on our lives and on our planet, offering a vital new perspective on where we are headed, how we can prepare, and what is at stake if we fail to act.​

"When heat comes, it's invisible. It doesn't bend tree branches or blow hair across your face to let you know it's arrived.... The sun feels like the barrel of a gun pointed at you."

The world is waking up to a new reality: wildfires are now seasonal in California, the Northeast is getting less and less snow each winter, and the ice sheets in the Arctic and Antarctica are melting fast. Heat is the first order threat that drives all other impacts of the climate crisis. And as the temperature rises, it is revealing fault lines in our governments, our politics, our economy, and our values. The basic science is not complicated: Stop burning fossil fuels tomorrow, and the global temperature will stop rising tomorrow. Stop burning fossil fuels in 50 years, and the temperature will keep rising for 50 years, making parts of our planet virtually uninhabitable. It's up to us. The hotter it gets, the deeper and wider our fault lines will open.

The Heat Will Kill You First is about the extreme ways in which our planet is already changing. It is about why spring is coming a few weeks earlier and fall is coming a few weeks later and the impact that will have on everything from our food supply to disease outbreaks. It is about what will happen to our lives and our communities when typical summer days in Chicago or Boston go from 90° F to 110°F. A heatwave, Goodell explains, is a predatory event-- one that culls out the most vulnerable people. But that is changing. As heatwaves become more intense and more common, they will become more democratic.

As an award-winning journalist who has been at the forefront of environmental journalism for decades, Goodell's new book may be his most provocative yet, explaining how extreme heat will dramatically change the world as we know it. Masterfully reported, mixing the latest scientific insight with on-the-ground storytelling, Jeff Goodell tackles the big questions and uncovers how extreme heat is a force beyond anything we have reckoned with before.

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