As the world's climate changes, heat waves may become difficult for people to tolerate in certain parts of the world — and this could have an impact on the global economy.
Why it matters: Economies that are heavily dependent on extractive industries — such as mining, oil and gas drilling, and agriculture — could find themselves at a disadvantage if particular climate change projections become a reality, according to a new report by the risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft.
Although the report has not been peer reviewed in a scientific journal, its conclusions are supported by other scientific studies warning of intolerable heat waves that could be life-threatening for outdoor workers.
- In particular, thresholds for dangerous heat waves could be crossed sooner in tropical countries than in higher latitudes
The details: According to the new analysis, heat stress could cause economic disruptions in both the developing and developed world by putting exports at risk.
The area with the greatest share of exports at risk is West Africa, particularly Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, which depend on extractive industries (Nigeria) and agricultural exports (Cote d’Ivoire).
"Heat stress will reduce worker productivity; it will hit commercial performance; and some supply chains will become less stable as a result. Reduced export revenues also mean less money available to governments to spend on combatting the worst impacts of rising heat," Alice Newman, an environment and climate change analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, told Axios in an email.
- The report relies on observed and projected daily temperatures from Verisk's heat stress indices — air temperature plus humidity levels — for the period from 1980 to 2045, as well as data on export economies.
"Heat stress can reduce worker productivity by causing dehydration and fatigue, leading to slower work and, in extreme instances, death," the report states.