The Heat Will Kill You First Book Summary - The Heat Will Kill You First Book explained in key points
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The Heat Will Kill You First summary

Jeff Goodell

Life and Death on a Scorched Planet

3.9 (135 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

The Heat Will Kill You First by Jeff Goodell is a book that explores the devastating impacts of climate change. It delves into the scientific evidence, personal stories, and urgent need for collective action to combat this global crisis.

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    The Heat Will Kill You First
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    Temperature has shaped human evolution

    Early life emerged on Earth around volcanic vents, when the planet was still a hot, molten mass. These primitive organisms were ectotherms, relying on external heat sources to regulate body temperature. Around 260 million years ago, endothermy evolved in animals like mammals and birds, enabling self-generated internal heat. This innovation allowed for faster metabolisms, quicker reaction times, and higher activity levels.

    As our human ancestors ventured onto the expanding African savannas, managing heat became crucial. Bipedal walking may have enabled better heat dissipation through airflow. Regulating temperature grew more challenging as larger brains – which needed more cooling – evolved in hominins. Around this time, humans also developed a novel cooling mechanism – sweat.

    Humans possess both apocrine and eccrine sweat glands. But eccrine glands proved most effective, secreting water-based liquid that lowers skin temperature through evaporation. To make this mechanism more effective, early humans also lost body hair, leaving, mainly, head hair to act as a sunshade for the brain. Sweating gave our ancestors an advantage when chasing prey during the hottest parts of the day when other animals were forced to rest. Thanks to sweat, early humans became superb endurance hunters with long legs and robust muscles.

    Other species have their own tactics. For instance, silver Saharan ants scavenge when it’s too hot for their predators but not so hot that they’ll fry in the desert heat; the camel’s hump not only acts as shade and insulation for its internal organs but also to store fat which it uses in times of food scarcity; and savanna chimps rest between five and seven hours during the hottest parts of the day.

    All organisms face challenges in a changing environment. Heat has been a powerful evolutionary force that has shaped biology over countless millennia. Yet the rules are shifting quickly, testing the resilience of long-held survival strategies. Humans evolved for a moderate climate, not the extreme heat we now face from climate change. Our adaptive strategies lag behind the pace of modern warming. How we choose to manage heat today will affect the evolutionary road ahead.

    But before we look at other effects caused by climate change, in the next section we offer some potentially life-saving advice.

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    What is The Heat Will Kill You First about?

    The Heat Will Kill You First (2023) warns that extreme heatwaves are becoming more common and will dramatically alter life as we know it – they’re an existential danger. Rising temperatures are already changing the planet, shortening seasons and intensifying disasters. Drawing on scientific research and reportage, it argues that intensifying heat will expose societal fault lines and threaten our communities in dire new ways. Extreme heat may be the most serious threat humanity has ever faced.

    The Heat Will Kill You First Review

    The Heat Will Kill You First (2023) by Jeff Goodell is a thought-provoking exploration of the imminent climate crisis and its devastating consequences. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides a compelling and alarming analysis of the catastrophic impacts of global warming, revealing the urgency of taking action.
    • With meticulous research and firsthand interviews, the book presents a comprehensive picture of the challenges we face, offering a wake-up call to readers.
    • Through its engaging storytelling and vivid descriptions, it conveys the harsh reality of a future shaped by climate change, leaving readers with a profound sense of responsibility.

    Who should read The Heat Will Kill You First?

    • Concerned citizens who want to know more about the effects of climate change
    • Policymakers who need to understand the social implications of intensifying heatwaves
    • Environmental activists seeking evidence to convey the urgency of climate action

    About the Author

    Jeff Goodell is an award-winning journalist and author. His previous book, The Water Will Come, was named a New York Times Critics Top Book in 2017. He’s covered climate issues for over two decades at Rolling Stone where he’s a contributing editor. He’s also appeared on major media outlets such as NPR, CNN, and MSNBC. His other works include Big Coal and How to Cool the Planet.

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    The Heat Will Kill You First FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Heat Will Kill You First?

    The main message of The Heat Will Kill You First is the urgent need to address the climate crisis and its devastating consequences.

    How long does it take to read The Heat Will Kill You First?

    The reading time for The Heat Will Kill You First varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Heat Will Kill You First a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Heat Will Kill You First is a thought-provoking and eye-opening book that sheds light on the urgent climate crisis. It's definitely worth reading for those concerned about the future of our planet.

    Who is the author of The Heat Will Kill You First?

    The author of The Heat Will Kill You First is Jeff Goodell.

    What to read after The Heat Will Kill You First?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Heat Will Kill You First, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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