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Extreme Heat Is Here to Stay. Why Are We Not More Afraid?

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THE HEAT WILL KILL YOU FIRST: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet, by Jeff Goodell

Heat, according to the journalist Jeff Goodell, has a branding problem — though unlike the desperate politician whose P.R. flack is on speed dial, heat doesn’t need to be better liked; it isn’t loathed nearly enough.

In his fast-paced new book about climate change, “The Heat Will Kill You First,” Goodell denounces the term “global warming” for sounding “gentle and soothing, as if the most notable impact of burning fossil fuels will be better beach weather.” He says that the word “hot” has too many pleasing connotations: sexy, winning, in demand. Sure, hell is supposed to be hot, too; but for those who can afford it, air-conditioning has sapped the metaphor of its power, allowing a hellish heat to seem like a matter of intermittent discomfort instead of eternal damnation.

As this terrifying book makes exceptionally clear, thinking we can just crank up the A.C. is a dangerous way to live. Goodell, who has written about climate change for more than a decade, is currently based in…

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