Solar aggression. How heat kills people and the world economy

    27 Jul 2021

    How much will global warming cost the world? Droughts, forest fires, drying of rivers are the effects of heat, which are increasingly observed on an increasingly threatening scale worldwide. However, abnormally high temperatures affect not only nature but also humanity and the economy.

    Let’s check the Chas News story about how many lives the heat takes, how it affects the ability to work and what damage global warming will bring to the planet in general.

    Thermal threat

    Heatwaves are among the most dangerous natural disasters, although their deadly effects are challenging to grasp at once. For example, initially, the number of victims of the most robust heat in 500 years, which covered Western Europe in 2003, was estimated at 30-50 thousand. However, in 2020, after additional analysis, their number increased to 70 thousand. In total, according to the World Health Organization. I, the victims of heat waves from 1998 to 2017, were more than 166 thousand people. The total number of deaths associated with exposure to high temperatures is even more significant. According to rough estimates of the American Institute for Indicators and Health Assessments, in 2019, the heat directly or indirectly took the lives of more than 300 thousand people.

    These figures will only grow every year, as global warming does its job and the globe heats up more and more. In 2015, the signatories of the Paris Climate Agreement agreed to keep the average annual temperature rise by no more than 2° C until 2100 compared to the end of the 19th century, ideally only by 1.5° C. However, more and more experts agree that such goals are too optimistic. In 2020, this figure rose by 1.2° C and published in May, the forecast of the World Meteorological Organization states that there is a 40% probability that the average temperature will rise by 1.5 ° C by 2025. Although last year the same experts said only about 20% probability of such an option. In general, more and more research suggests that at the end of the century, the Earth will warm up by 3 ° C, or even more degrees.

    It does not bode well for humankind. A draft report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, published by the French news agency AFP, predicts that if the average temperature rises by 2 ° C instead of 1.5 ° C, an additional 1.7 billion people will be exposed to extreme heat and another 420 million to excessive. The heat. (The report will be officially published in February 2022).

    A temperature of 35 degrees on a humid thermometer is considered lethal even in the shade and with an unlimited amount of water. This method of measurement takes into account both temperature and humidity, so the figures seem lower. But do not be fooled because the body loses the ability to cool naturally through sweating in such conditions.

    “At some point, in six or a little more hours, it will lead to organ failure and death in the absence of access to artificial cooling,” explains Colin Raymond of Columbia University. In recent years, such extremes have been recorded only a few times in the Persian Gulf. Still, if the average temperature rises by 2.5° C, they will be regularly observed on the coast of the Middle East, South Asia, and southwestern North America.

    Hot work

    We will not talk more about the fatal consequences. The climate in Eastern Europe is gradually changing, but it will not be the same as in the Persian Gulf in the coming decades. However, when heat waves cover a usually “cold” country, its inhabitants feel their effects. The heat has many health problems: vasodilation threatens edema and fainting, excessive sweating – dehydration, and overheating – heat stroke. A person’s sense of time, vigilance is disturbed, and it just becomes difficult to think.

    “In the heat, there are critical changes in almost all systems of the human body, especially the most important for life – cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous. If the air temperature is high and a person stays in these conditions long enough, he or she not only has a sharp decrease in efficiency but also there are risks of critical changes in health, an example of which is heat stroke,” explains PhD. in medical sciences Mykola Yabluchansky.

    The heat most strongly affects the ability to work of people who work outdoors, for example, on construction or in agriculture. According to scientists in the example of India, after the temperature reaches 27° C, each additional degree reduces the efficiency of agricultural workers by 4%. Another study found that at 35° C, workers in agriculture and construction lose 30 minutes of productivity every hour due to heat stress. Although at high humidity, this figure will be even higher.

    In addition, researchers from the University of California found that on days when the air temperature exceeded 32° C, the risk of injury at work increased by 6-9% compared to days when the thermometer showed 10-15° C. And with increasing heat to 37° C, the number of accidents increases by 10-15%.

    Not only outdoor workers but also offices suffer from the heat. In recent years, dozens of studies confirm that with increasing temperature, productivity falls even indoors in the absence of exercise. For example, researchers at Harvard University conducted an experiment on students in dormitories. Some of them lived in air-conditioned rooms at a temperature of about 21° C; in others, the thermometer showed 27° C. For 12 days, they received math tests twice a day. The results showed that students in buildings without a central air conditioning system solved tasks 13% slower and gave 10% fewer correct answers per minute.

    Scientists from the National Lawrence Laboratory in Berkeley found that the maximum productivity in offices is observed at 22° C, after which it begins to decrease gradually. At 30° C, it will be 8.9% below the maximum. Similar studies show other studies. In short, the heat eliminates the desire to work and significantly reduces efficiency, and national economies, respectively, lose money.

    Overheated economy

    In 2019, the International Labor Organization released a thorough study on the global effects of global warming on the economy. According to experts, in 2030onit will be simply impossible to go to work, on some hot days and in others, the ability to work will fall significantly. As a result, the world economy will lose 2.2% of total working hours, which is equivalent to 80 million jobs. In monetary terms, economic losses were estimated at $2.4 trillion. However, the countries of South Asia and West Africa will suffer the most. EU countries will suffer less. 

    However, this forecast has a significant weakness. It is designed for an overly optimistic scenario of increasing the average temperature on the planet by only 1.5° C.Suppose we take into account not only the impact of climate change on efficiency but also the natural disasters and damage to infrastructure caused by them. In that case, the losses of the world economy will be much more significant. According to the April forecast of the Swiss Re Institute, if the Paris Agreement is met and the average temperature rises by less than 2° C, global GDP will fall by 4% by 2050, but if countries ignore the fight against global warming and temperatures increase by 3.2° C – the world economy will fall by 18%. Under the latter, pessimistic option, China will lose about 24% of GDP, the United States and Canada – 10%, and European countries in general – 11%.

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