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Heat stroke: when heat kills

While oil gushes out of the Gulf, and the economy staggers toward the exits, scientists continue to investigate our longer future.

For example, could it get so hot that large parts of the heavily inhabited Earth would have to be abandoned? And I ask two popular bloggers, why are most of the public blissfully unaware of how heat kills? Do you know the operating temperature of your skin? No, it is not 98.6, or 37 degrees C.

Scientists predict more extreme heat waves, as the planet warms. They are already happening, with more records set in the North America, Europe, Asia and Australia every year. Pakistan just set a new all-time record - over 53 degrees, or 129 Fahrenheit. Over a thousand people just died in India from heat stress.

Who goes first? If you guessed the elderly, you are only partly right. Babies and teenagers are on that list. And anyway, won't all of us be seniors someday, as the heat increased?

Never mind. You and I will have air conditioning. Until the power goes out, as it regularly does during heat waves.

And despite all the images on TV, heat kills more of us than tornados, hurricanes, or lightening, combined.

We'll thrash through that with John Cook, the Australian host of the Skeptical Science blog, and then with Stuart Staniford, a techie and energy specialist writing in the Early Warning blog.

Listen to this week's program for our two interviews. And get all the links you need to follow up in our extended blog entry below.

Of course there are sensible things we can do, to stay alive in the coming heat waves, and stop cooking our grandkids. Like getting off fossil fuels very quickly. Changing over our cities from heat sinks to natural cooling centers. And using community planning to care for those most at risk. We'll have to save that for a future Radio Ecoshock program.

READ MORE (with links to find out more about heat stress, record heat waves, and the new science predicting an over-heated planet)


Download the audio for this episode here.

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