A punishing mix of heat and humidity that makes outdoor labor difficult and dangerous is losing nearly 677 billion work hours worldwide, according to a new study Thursday that warns climate change will make it worse. Happening.
Researchers in the United States, who estimated the current cost at $2.1 trillion each year, said the negative effects of lower temperatures on people doing heavy work in agriculture and construction had been underestimated.
The new figures come amid increasing attention to the serious health impacts of climate change, not only as projections of future damage from heatwaves and other extreme events, but also as the consequences for an already warming world.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, looked at data from humid summers, which are particularly dangerous because sweating does not cool the body.
The researchers estimated the number of workers exposed to unsafe levels over the 20 years to 2020, as well as the impact on labor compared to the period 1981 to 2000.
The researchers incorporated findings from laboratory-based research published last year that suggest productivity declines at lower temperature and humidity levels than previously thought.
They found that between 2001 and 2020, about 677 billion work hours were lost in heavy outdoor labor exposed to high humidity and heat.
This suggested that nearly three quarters of the global working-age population is already living in locations where background climatic conditions are associated with lost work involving about a hundred hours of heat per person per year.
Lead researcher Luke said, “If outdoor workers are losing productivity at these low temperature and humidity levels, worker losses in the tropics could range from 500 to 600 hours per person per year, more than double previous estimates.” ” Parsons of Duke University.
The research found that India currently loses about 259 billion hours annually due to the effects of humid heat on labour, while China loses 72 billion hours and Bangladesh 32 billion hours.
Warming ‘enhances the effect’
Over the past four decades, as global temperatures have risen, the study found that heat-related labor losses have increased by at least nine percent.
The authors estimate that climate change is responsible for the loss of an additional 25 billion working hours a year in India over the past 20 years, and an additional 4 billion hours a year in China over the same period.
Parsons said there could also be “significant” labor losses in other hot and humid regions, such as the southeastern United States.
“These results mean that we do not need to wait for 1.5 °C of global warming to experience the effects of climate change on labor and the economy,” he said.
“The warming we have already experienced may be associated with large-scale background labor losses. Additional future warming amplifies these effects.”
The Lancet’s annual Countdown Report on Health and Humanity warned last year that a total of about 295 billion hours of potential work were lost in 2020 due to exposure to extreme heat, with poor countries earning four to eight of the average potential national gross. percent was lost. Domestic Product (GDP).
Research published last year in the journal Nature Climate Change suggested that 100,000 heat-related deaths per year are due to climate change.
Last year, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global warming was almost certain to exceed the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit within a decade.
The past seven years have been the hottest on record since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)