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Work Hours and
Excessive Heat

As temperatures rise, we battle severe consequences, including financial ones.

As a result of climate change, we are losing work hours. The intense heat that climate change produces proves to be a battle for workers, especially those working in agriculture.

In 2020, we lost 295 billion work hours due to severe heat. People engaging in daytime outdoor labor were worst affected. Agricultural workers in countries that had medium and low levels of what the UN defines as human development index (HDI), for instance, lost nearly half of these 295 billion work hours. If the number of work hours lost continues to rise, there could be overwhelming economic consequences.

2020 was the year of 242 recorded extreme events related to climate. It was also the year of an economic loss of 178 billion (in US dollars), resulting from these events. Roughly 67% of these losses raised in economies with particularly high HDI.

Agricultural workers in Nipomo, California.

Agricultural workers in Nipomo, California.

As you can imagine, many lost money. Income losses in 2020 amounted to

Heat does not only have financial effects. It is estimated that 75% of the world may be at risk of deadly heat, by the end of the century. Currently, around 3.6 billion cooling appliances are used globally. Compare this to the 14 billion appliances that may be needed by 2050.
Climate change is only worsening, and it has already had drastic effects, like the economic losses experienced in 2020. In order to respond to this effectively, we need to raise awareness to what excessive heat may bring as consequences and create solutions.


Romanello, M., McGushin, A., Napoli, C. D., Drummond, P., Hughes, N., Jamart, L., Kennard, H., Lampard, P., Rodriguez, B. S., Arnell, N., Ayeb-Karlsson, S., Belesova, K., Cai, W., Campbell-Lendrum, D., Capstick, S., Chambers, J., Chu, L., Ciampi, L., Dalin, C., & Dasandi, N. (2021). The 2021 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: code red for a healthy future. The Lancet, 398(10311). https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)01787-6.

Ro, Christine. “Why The Health Risks of Overheating Go Unnoticed.” BBC Future, 24 Feb. 2022, www.bbc.com/future/article/20210825-why-the-health-risks-of-overheating-go-unnoticed.