A study performed by the NOAA concluded that high heat and humidity (heat stress) are responsible for reductions in labor capacity.
In the past six decades, the hot, wet weather the Earth has been experiencing due to climate change has drastically affected labor capacity. In fact, the amount of work people were able to perform in the worst heat declined by 10% during that time. Experts predict this loss will double by the middle of the century.
It’s more taxing on the human body to work in high humidity, when the air is hot, muggy, and wet. Very high humidity can even make it hard to breathe and can cause a host of respiratory problems.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) experts examined current military and industrial guidelines for heat stress. They evaluated the guidelines alongside projects for how hot and humid the climate will become over the next hundred odd years.
NOAA did not expect the stark results. What it discovered was labor capacity losses will double by up to 50% by 2050 based on heat and humidity causing major heat stress on the human body.
Already lowered to 90% during humid periods, experts are certain this estimate will drop to 80% work capability by 2050.
This reduction doesn’t just affect third world nations. Labor capacity would be nearly gone in the lower Mississippi Valley, and the majority of the US east of the Rocky Mountains would be forced to endure heat stress that is unimaginable by today’s standards.
Experts predict that New York City’s heat stress could actually exceed that of present-day Bahrain. Bahrain, on the other hand, would experience heat stress so severe, scientists warn of hyperthermia or dangerous overheating – even among the sedentary population.
There is good news for some – the west coast of the US Northern Europe will be affected last by the trend toward more hot and humid climate.
The ultimate key to survival will be how adaptable and how inventive humans can be to live in conditions with extreme heat stress.