Global warming: Heat stress hits labor productivity

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Graphic charting ice sheet contribution to global sea level. Scientists on Thursday said that Antarctic and Greenland have contributed just over 11 millimeters to global sea levels since 1992. AFP

PARIS – Heat stress from global warming may be having an impact on outdoor work productivity in hot regions like northern Australia, Southeast Asia and the southern United States, a study said Sunday.

In recent decades, rising temperatures and higher humidity reduced labour capacity, on paper at least, by 10 percent during the hottest months, it says.

And by 2050, labor capacity – the ability to maintain efficiency in outdoor work – could fall by 20 percent, it warns.

Farmworkers, construction laborers and the military are among the sectors most exposed to hotter, steamier conditions.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, uses a computer model that simulates warming and a rise in humidity and their impact on strenuous outdoor activity.

The most vulnerable regions are the Arabian peninsula, the Indian sub-continent, Southeast Asia, northern Australia and the greater Caribbean region, including the lower Mississippi Valley, according to John Dunne of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

The model assumes an increase in temperature of 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) and a rise of five percent in absolute humidity for 2010, compared with a benchmark, which comprises the average over a century to 1960.

It foresees warming of 1.4-1.7 C (2.5-3.0 F) and a humidity rise of 11 percent by 2050 compared to this benchmark.

For calculation purposes, it also assumes that in temperate regions, people work continuously, but in the hottest places, the working day is split between 80 percent work and 20 percent rest.

The authors point out that the models do not take into account several factors that could change the picture, such as technological change and fluctuations in carbon emissions.

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  • WeAry_Bat

    I experienced that.  It’s the reason why working on the farm means getting up way before sunrise.   Even at 10am, it is hot and humid on the farm that at 11am to 2pm one just have to shade and do siesta.  How much for plants, there would less harvests.

  • giltor

    Anthropogenic global warming then has the same effect as the meteorite that streaked across the sky over Russia’s Ural mountains.

    It impacted the productivity of more than 1,100 people.

    I hope that the global hoaxers/alarmists could also do something about meteor threats. While there, they could also work on gravitational pull that is the cause of all falls on the work places that greatly reduce productivity.

  • akramgolteb

    1984-88 nagtratrabaho ako sa factory sa Pilipinas bilang production supervisor. Kahit noon pa may heat stress na kahit Dec-Jan kung saan medyo malamig sa PIlipinas. Dahil sa init mabilis ako at ang ibang mga trabahador mapagod at napakahirap magtrabaho kahit papasok ka pa lang sa loob ng jeep o bus. Ang ibig sabihin nito ang heat stress ay hindi dahil sa global warming kung hindi likas na mainit talaga sa Pilipinas na nasa Southeast Asia.

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