Jeff Goodell talks climate change in THE HEAT WILL KILL YOU FIRST & Suing the Fossil Fuel Industry

July 4, 2023 was the hottest day ever recorded on Earth. Are we exceeding the “Goldilocks zone” of a habitable planet?

We ask that question of climate journalist and author Jeff Goodell. His new book is THE HEAT WILL KILL YOU FIRST: Life and Death on a Scorched Planet.

We also revisit a conversation about suing the fossil fuel companies for scorching our planet. We play an excerpt from our 2017 interview with Lynn Zinser of Climate Liability News that is still relevant now, five years later.

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Tags: climate change, global warming, extreme heat, Jeff Goodell, climate litigation, Lynn Zinser, podcast, book recommendations, author interview, book podcast, book show, creative nonfiction

Jeff Goodell: First Floods, Then Fire

The last time we spoke with climate journalist Jeff Goodell, it was about his 2017 book, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World.

Now, he’s coming out with a sort of companion book, The Heat Will Kill You First, out July 11 from Little, Brown.

It’s about how the rise in global temperatures aren’t just playing havoc with sea levels, but affecting us more directly in the form of extreme heat.

Extreme Heat Happening Now
Reading the The Heat Will Kill You First is like reading the latest headlines: from massive wildfires driven by scorched forests to outside workers dying from heat stroke to oceans hotter than ever recorded, all this is becoming terrifyingly familiar to us all.

Taking Action

But despite the title, The Heat Will Kill You First isn’t just about the threat that’s cooking the planet, but also about what can be done about it, from holding the perpetrators of this crime accountable—the fossil fuel companies—to how we can adapt in a way that makes for a safer, more equitable world.

About The Author

Jeff Goodell is the author of six previous books. He’s covered climate change for more than two decades at Rolling Stone and is a Senior Fellow at the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center.

Lynn Zinser: Suing the Fossil Fuel Companies

Back in 2017, we spoke with Lynn Zinser of Climate Liability News about the efforts to hold the fossil fuel companies legally responsible for the scorching of our planet. Some of the cases we spoke about then have seen important developments.

Climate Suits Go Forward

This year, the Supreme Court declined to interfere in states’ ability to sue under public nuisance laws — something that had been challenged by the polluters — allowing the suits to go forward.

And the landmark suit brought by a group of young people against the federal government under the public trust doctrine, Juliana v. U.S., just got the green light to head to trial. (You can tell the Department of Justice to stop trying to prevent the trial from happening.)

A similar case brought by the same law firm in Montana just concluded its trial June 20 and is waiting for the judge to rule.

But this five year old conversation with Zinser is still relevant today. She tells us how the public is seeking to hold the climate criminals to account. Listen to the full interview here.