Think back to summer. No, no, don’t think about the good times. Instead, try to remember what it was like when it was too stinkin’ hot to get any work done.
Humans don’t work so well when it’s stinking hot. And that means that as the globe warms around us, we’re doing less work. How much less? According to results of a study published Sunday in Nature Climate Change, humanity’s summertime productivity has already fallen 10 percent since before the Industrial Revolution. And it’s going to get worse.
Using middle-of-the-road future temperature and humidity projections, experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimated that our productivity during the hottest months could drop by an additional 10 percentage points by 2050. More extreme warming would lead to more extreme impacts.
A more extreme scenario of future global warming, which estimated a temperature rise of 10.8 degrees F (6 degrees C), would make it difficult to work in the hottest months in many parts of the world, [lead author John Dunne of NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton] said at a telephone briefing.
Labor capacity would be all but eliminated in the lower Mississippi Valley and most of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains would be exposed to heat stress “beyond anything experienced in the world today,” he said.
Under this scenario, heat stress in New York City would exceed that of present-day Bahrain, while in Bahrain, the heat and humidity could cause hyperthermia — potentially dangerous overheating — even in sleeping people who were not working at all.
All of which points to one thing: Less work, more party!
Oh. The hyperthermia thing.