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Extreme Heat Cost Humans 153 Billion Lost Work Hours in 2017

November 29, 2018, 11:21 PM UTC

Climate change is a global health crisis. In addition to changing the ecology of the planet and impacting wildlife, climate change and associated extreme weather is starting to impact our basic ability as humans to live and work, according Countdown, a comprehensive report published Wednesday in the medical journal The Lancet.

It’s a massive study, the second annual report of its kind, that analyzes how key indicators for human and environmental health interact and impact one another.

One statistic that stands out is how many work hours—153 billion—were lost in just 2017 due to extreme heat. That’s an increase of more than 62 billion hours since 2000.

Those lost hours come from what might be obvious industries, such as farming and food production, when a heatwave can limit human ability to be outside, let alone work. In fact, 80% of those lost hours were from agricultural sectors, which could pretty quickly exacerbate other global health issues when you consider how interrelated food systems are around the world.

And in 2017 alone, due to extreme weather events, the United States suffered $326 billion in economic losses, which is nearly triple the same type of economic losses in 2016.

Even as these statistics stand out, it’s technically nothing new. Vulnerability to heatwaves has been steadily increasing worldwide since 1990 in every region of the world, according to the study data.