High heat, low productivity

Chennai: A report on health and climate change, has correlated low productivity to high heat.

According to the latest Lancet Countdown, India recorded the highest loss in work hours because of extreme heat in 2019. Across the globe, a potential 302 billion work hours were lost in 2019, 103 billion hours more than the hours lost in 2000.

Only 13 countries made up 80.7 per cent of the global work hours lost in 2019, with India recording the greatest total loss and Cambodia the highest per-capita loss for any country.

India lost 118.3 billion work hours and 111.2 work hours per person in 2019 alone.

By 2015, the estimated loss in earnings because of heat stress reached as high as 3.9–5.9 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for lower-middle-income countries tracked by Lancet authors, including India, Indonesia and Cambodia.

In 2019, India also saw a record number of above-baseline days of heatwave exposure affecting people aged above 65 years. During the past 20 years, there has been a 53.7 per cent increase in heat-related deaths globally among people older than 65 years, reaching a total of 296,000 deaths in 2018. The highest number of deaths among the elderly in 2018 were reported in China (62,000) and India (31,000 deaths) followed by Germany, the US, Russia and Japan.

There is an increase in the intensity, duration, and extent of heatwaves over South Asia- particularly the India-Pakistan region, said Roxy Mathew Koll, climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, citing a study by the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur.

“The report warned that the imprint of climate change on extreme weather events was now clear. Advancements in climate science allow for greater accuracy and certainty in attribution, it said, adding that studies from 2015 to 2020 have shown the imprint of climate change on 76 floods, droughts, storms, and temperature extremes.”

The report underlined that Covid-19 and climate change were interlinked crises.

“The pandemic has shown us that when health is threatened on a global scale, our economies and ways of life can come to a standstill”, Ian Hamilton, executive director of the Lancet Countdown, said.

Vivek Adhia, country director for India at the Institute for Sustainable Communities, said, “Even as we were measuring up to address the existing development gaps, the Covid-19 pandemic further underscored implications with increased risks, on the most vulnerable constituencies”.


NT Bureau