Global Warming Saps Workers' Strength

If you are a firefighter, farmer, construction worker, factory worker, or other type of laborer a new study by NOAA researchers says you will be forced to slow down due to increases in heat and humidity. Moreover, the laborers of the world have already felt the cruel grip of climate change over the past 60 years. Currently, during peak summer months, heat stress reduces labor capacity to about 90 percent of full potential. The NOAA study projects that heat-stress related labor capacity losses will double globally by 2050 with a warming climate, dropping to 80 percent in peak months. So now everyone can benefit from the global warming scam, just tell your boss your output is down due to climate change.

Given all the things that government wastes money on it should come as no surprise that a bunch of researchers at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has labored mightily and constructed a link between rising global temperatures and diminishing labor output. In a report, “Reductions in labour capacity from heat stress under climate warming,” published online in Nature Climate Change, John P. Dunne, Ronald J. Stouffer and Jasmin G. John have handed slackers the world over the best excuse for goofing off on the job ever—the climate made us do it (or not do it, as the case may be). That it would appear in the pages of Nature Climate Change comes as no surprise because that journal, unlike its sister publications Nature and Nature Geoscience, is basically a shill for the climate catastrophe clique. Here is the article's abstract:

A fundamental aspect of greenhouse-gas-induced warming is a global-scale increase in absolute humidity. Under continued warming, this response has been shown to pose increasingly severe limitations on human activity in tropical and mid-latitudes during peak months of heat stress. One heat-stress metric with broad occupational health applications is wet-bulb globe temperature. We combine wet-bulb globe temperatures from global climate historical reanalysis and Earth System Model (ESM2M) projections with industrial and military guidelines for an acclimated individual’s occupational capacity to safely perform sustained labour under environmental heat stress (labour capacity)—here defined as a global population-weighted metric temporally fixed at the 2010 distribution. We estimate that environmental heat stress has reduced labour capacity to 90% in peak months over the past few decades. ESM2M projects labour capacity reduction to 80% in peak months by 2050. Under the highest scenario considered (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5), ESM2M projects labour capacity reduction to less than 40% by 2200 in peak months, with most tropical and mid-latitudes experiencing extreme climatological heat stress. Uncertainties and caveats associated with these projections include climate sensitivity, climate warming patterns, CO2 emissions, future population distributions, and technological and societal change.

To add insult to injury the paper, paid for by US tax money, is locked up and unavailable to those without a subscription to the UK based journal. It is bad enough that the government wastes money on such tripe, to have to pay to view it in its entirety is more than offensive. American politicians are in a frenzy, projecting doom and gloom because the government budget is about to be cut by ~2%. I can point them to three government employees that can be cashiered with no loss to the public well being. If we are lucky the looming budgets cuts will sequester the authors right onto the unemployment lines.

That outrage aside, the premise here is that humans have a range of temperature and humidity over which they can work safely and productively. Beyond certain thresholds workers are no longer able to adapt to the environment and their output suffers. How are those those thresholds established? Why by another government bureaucracy of course. The thresholds come from guidelines established by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which have been adopted operationally by many institutions and military organizations around the world, including the United States Army. The figure below, recreated from figure 2 in the article, shows the results of the study.


Shown are the historical period (NCEP reanalysis—black, maximum alone; ESM2M historical—green), RCP 4.5 (blue) and RCP 8.5 (red) derived. Note that the two RCPs represent different sets of model forcings.

Note that the temperatures used for historical data have been subjected to “reanalysis,” a code word for going back and messing with the actual readings to better fit the climate lobby's world view. Future temperatures come from one of the super accurate climate models, in this case the Earth System Model (ESM2M). So they combined rejiggered historical data with fake future data and applied arbitrary labor effectiveness standards to arrive at the scary conclusion that humanity is losing its capacity for hard work.

The authors themselves recognize that there are fundamental discrepancies between the reanalysis data and the output from the ESM2M model. To begin with, ESM2M has a different time history of climate variability than the reanalysis. “Because ESM2M is a single, freely propagating coupled model with its own internally-generated variability, it is necessarily out of sync with that in the historical reanalysis, so direct comparison of timing is impossible,” they explain.

Even worse, the last decade of ESM2M output generates a stronger labor decrease than the actual (“corrected”) temperature data, giving it a stronger overall trend during the reanalysis period. This implies that the predictions for the future are even more exaggerated, yielding even more dire results. “The causality behind this discrepancy is unclear, and may be due to either variability or an inadequacy of the model forcing or response,” they state. So how do they justify puting out this unsupportable drivel in the first place?

“Most studies of the direct impact of global warming on humans have focused on mortality under either extreme weather events or theoretical physiological limits. We wanted instead to describe climate warming in practical terms that people commonly experience already,” says John Dunne, Ph.D., of the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and lead author.

The article goes on to say, that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise under the higher projection scenarios, increased heat stress will reduce labor capacity to 39 percent in peak months by 2200. In this case global warming will cause temperatures to rise by 6°C (11°F). This will be particularly apparent in mid-latitude and tropical regions, which include South and East Asia, North America, and Australia. Heat stress in New York City will be rampant, exceeding that of any present day location. I guess the homeless, panhandlers and street people will be even more indolent than they are today. Elsewhere, many areas will be unable to sustain safe human labor without air conditioning during the warmest months.


”We ain't bums. This is all because of global warming.”

According to the NOAA announcement: “This work represents a fundamental step forward in the ability to quantify the direct impact of climate warming on the global human population. The findings indicate that even with reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, heat stress would still force a doubling of labor capacity losses by the middle of this century, with more severe reductions under continued highest emissions scenarios out to 2200.”

NOAA claims its mission is to “understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources.” Somehow they have managed to slip in predicting how hard we will work under the ravages of global warming. This isn't mission creep, it's mission runaway. Nothing but idle speculation about future idleness, based on guesswork and hypotheticals. And people wonder why government spending is out of control.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

Cross-checking the results

This idea of lower productivity due to more extreme summer temperatures can be tested in a variety of ways.
1. By looking at the drop in productivity in summer between cities whose major difference is climate. For instance between London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Or Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Or Boston, New York and Houston.
2. Look at how people's productivity changes when they move from cooler climates to warmer ones. You would have found, for instance the millions who emigrated from Ireland and Scotland in the nineteenth century to the more extreme summer temperatures of USA, would have had a phenomenal drop in productivity. Or the huge numbers who left Britain post-war for Australia.

If this was published in a journal of occupational health, there would have been policy recommendations. Most direct of these would have been the extension of controlled temperature working environments. Only climatologists advocate policies that would make the most powerful air conditioning systems unaffordable.

What about Migration

Just as the US is undergoing a migration of the physical labor work force now wouldn't it continue with even greater significance as it gets warmer?

US Labor Migration

The trend in the US in recent years has been to the south and southwest, areas that are hotter than the rest of the country. Some attribute this to air conditioning and an abundance of inexpensive electric power but clearly, heat is no impediment. Even the highest levels of warming envisioned by the IPCC would probably not stop that movement.