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It may be too hot to work outside by 2030, research predicts

Posted July 28

United Nations research indicates rising temperatures may cost the global economy more than $2 trillion by 2030 in reduced productivity, as well as cut down working hours in the poorer areas of the globe. (Deseret Photo)

By 2030, we may have a new reason to call in sick to work — research suggests that by then it will be too hot to work in parts of the world, particularly for those whose jobs consistently expose them to the heat.

Bloomberg stated that United Nations research indicates this heat onslaught may cost the global economy more than $2 trillion by 2030 in reduced productivity, as well as cut down working hours in the poorer areas of the globe. With low-paid and heat-exposed professions such as construction and farming taking the brunt of it, Quartz noted.

Forty-three countries are expected to see a fall in their gross domestic product from heat stress, in particular Asiatic countries such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia, as Tord Kjellstrom, a director at the Health and Environment International Trust, told Bloomberg. India and China’s GDP losses alone could total $450 billion in 2030, Kjellstrom added.

The warming conditions are likely to “become a significant problem" as the hottest days grow hotter and heat waves last longer, Kjellstrom told Reuters.

Already, 15 to 20 percent of annual work hours have been halted in Southeast Asia, a figure that may double by 2050 as the climate continues to change, Quartz stated. But shifting work schedules to avoid the heat may not be the answer, the article continued, because that could lower people's heat tolerance.

Low- and middle-income countries are the most likely to see heat-related productivity loss, with richer countries largely unaffected by the change in temperature, Bloomberg noted. And the gap between the rich and the poor may increase as low-paying jobs that expose workers to the heat become restricted.

The news comes during an extended heat wave, as Bloomberg noted in another article that June was the latest in a series of 14 months with record-breaking heat. Additionally, it’s the third consecutive year to set a new global heat record, a landmark distinction that’s never before occurred, it continued.

It also comes not long after Scientific America reported in April that the Earth will cross a dangerous threshold by 2036 if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at its current rate, which “will harm human civilization.” Despite the current slowdown of rising temperatures, it’s not a break from the global warming trend, wrote Michael Mann in the publication.

“It simply buys us a little bit of time — potentially valuable time — to prevent our planet from crossing the threshold,” he wrote.

But as Business Green noted, it can hard for people to respond to a call to action on climate change because of “reports so full of predictions, projections, estimates and margins of error,” rather than more certain data and conclusions.

Email: smanderson@deseretnews.com, Twitter: @Sarahsonofander.

2 Comments

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  • Demute Sainte Jul 28, 8:44 p.m.
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    Didnt we already cross the threshold according to Al Gore? The antarctic ice is growing... fast!

    Besides.... the trillions lost in wages and worker productivity due to heat pail when compared to the costs associated with the taxes and regulations and misery a mere 1 degree C change in global temperature would cost us. IF it would even work... scientists have frequently over-estimated CO2 effects on the climate to the point any computer modeling is speculation, not science. Just like this story.

  • Sick Ofhollywood Jul 28, 1:11 p.m.
    user avatar

    Might want to source some reliable science here. All BS.