The State Worker

California state scientist featured in global-warming documentary with Matt Damon

A California state scientist who studies the interplay between human health and the environment will be featured in a new episode of a Showtime documentary series on global warming tonight at 8 p.m.

Rupa Basu, appears in “Years of Living Dangerously” with actor Matt Damon to discuss the impact of heat waves on health. From studies conducted while a student at John Hopkins University and as an environmental scientist for the state, Basu has concluded that deaths triggered by heatwaves are often incorrectly reported as strokes, heart attacks or other ailments.

“There’s not even a recongnized standard for what a heatwave is,” Basu said in a telephone interview from her Bay Area home.

The documentary, the eighth in a nine-part series, covers conversations with Basu and Damon as they interview various public health experts and officials in Southern California about heat-triggered illnesses and deaths.

Hollywood heavyweights James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (who signed the nation’s first greenhouse gas emissions law) are executive producers of the series. On-camera celebrities in the series include Damon, Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford and Jessica Alba.

Producers approached Basu after she spoke about her studies at a conference that was picked up on You Tube.

“They told me, ‘You may not know this,’” she said, “’but that was your audition for this show.’”

Click here for a preview of the show that features Basu.