Climate change’s highest cost: Overheated employees too miserable to work

There is something in this but not much.  So let me speak as if global warming might happen.

People tend to move to the climate they like.  My forebears did.  Their ancestry was British but they liked warm weather.  So all four of my grandparents were born in the tropics.  And mostly people do tend to move to warmer places -- American sunbelt  migration is an obvious case. So any adverse effects of warmth would be greatly ameliorated by mobility.

So warming is most likely to improve people's satisfaction with where they live.  So it is possible that their productivity might improve because of that.

And much of the world's population lives in areas that are frozen-in for part of the year.  That sort of weather is not good for productivity.  So having less severe winters must surely improve productivity.

And outdoor work is relatively rare in today's economy.  Even farmers sit in the airconditioned cabs of their harvesting machinery for most of the time. And harvesting is increasingly mechanized anyway. Australia has no illegals to harvest their crops so there is a high level of mechanization instead

And I know I am treading on dangerous ground here but I cannot help noting that Africans were brought to America precisely because of their ability to do manual work in hot conditions.  So a warmer climate could open up employment opportunities for them.  In the early days they were found to work better in the fields than the ancestors of the "Hispanics"

If any Leftist ever reads this, they will automatically accuse me of condoning slavery so let me point out that as a libertarian  slavery is the antithesis of all I stand for

The US economy could lose $221 billion annually by 2090 as people stop working as much or as hard.

The costs of lower labor productivity under soaring temperatures could reach as much as $221 billion a year in the United States by 2090, making it the largest category of potential economic damages from climate change.

As temperatures rise, worker output slows and cognitive performance declines, with a dramatic drop-off around 28 ˚C (82 ˚F), says Reed Walker, an economist focused on climate issues at the University of California, Berkeley.

Scientists have long recognized that extreme temperatures can reduce productivity, as well as lowering lifetime earnings, widening wealth disparities, inciting violence, and increasing suicides and deaths (see “Death will be one of the highest economic costs of climate change”). But the report estimates the total US cost in lost productivity based on projected temperature increases in the decades ahead, says Brian O’Neill, director of research at the University of Denver’s Pardee Center for International Futures and a coauthor of the report.

Faced with sizzling temperatures, workers compensate by changing the timing, location, level, or type of work they do, all of which can affect their output and pay.

The effect is particularly pronounced with manual outdoor labor like farming and construction, but it shows up even in air-conditioned factories or offices, Walker says. In the United States, auto plant production drops by 8% during weeks with six or more days above 90 ˚F, according to a 2012 study.

There are various ways that companies can try to minimize the effects, including installing air conditioning, shifting work hours, and moving a greater portion of pre-assembly work indoors. None of these were included in the estimate of economic effects, O’Neill says. But most of these steps add costs that many businesses can’t afford or wish to avoid.

Significant decreases in greenhouse-gas emissions could lower the economic impact on labor productivity by as much as 60%, the national assessment found.


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