The economic cost of extreme heat is rising – WEIS

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(NEW YORK) – Summer has been a pressure cooker for the U.S. and European economies, and experts say extreme heat is making it increasingly difficult for workers to do their jobs, especially those working outdoors. outside.

A historic and deadly heat wave has scorched Western Europe, killing more than 1,000 people in Spain and Portugal and displacing thousands in France, Greece and Italy. In Britain and Germany, excessive heat is unprecedented. Meanwhile, much of the United States is baking in blistering heat, as temperatures in Texas and Oklahoma topped 113 degrees.

A video this week of a UPS delivery driver collapsing in the triple-digit heat of Scottsdale, Arizona has gone viral. A UPS spokesperson confirmed the incident in a statement to Phoenix ABC affiliate KNXV-TV, saying in part, “We appreciate the concern for our employee and can report that he is doing well. Our employee used his training to be aware of his situation and contacted his manager for assistance, who immediately provided assistance.

Heat-related worker productivity losses cost the United States an estimated $100 billion a year, according to a report by Washington, DC-based think tank Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center. As extreme heat days become more frequent, the report says that figure is expected to double to $200 billion by 2030, or about 0.5% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, average temperatures in several major US cities have risen over the past 120 years, with Los Angeles County rising 3.4 degrees and New York County seeing a 3.2 degree rise. of the average temperature. In Dallas County, Texas, the average temperature has risen 1.2 degrees over the past 60 years, according to NOAA, and experts say the Southeast and Midwest face the greatest economic cost. high from extreme heat.

Texas loses an average of $30 billion a year due to its climate and the large number of people working outdoors, according to the think tank’s report. This figure is expected to rise to $110 billion per year by 2050, or 2.5% of Texas’ total economic output.

That same report found that the industries most affected by the oppressive heat are construction and agriculture, where workers are most exposed to the elements. By 2050, construction is expected to lose 3.5% of its total annual economic activity to heating, or $1.2 billion per year, while agriculture is expected to lose 3.7%, or nearly $131. million dollars per year.

President Joe Biden this week announced new executive action to address climate change, but did not declare a climate emergency. The move comes after a major piece of legislation with more than $300 billion in clean energy tax relief stalled on Capitol Hill.

“Since Congress is not acting the way it should… This is an emergency and I’m going to look at it that way,” Biden said.

Initiatives include $2.3 billion in funding for a program that helps communities prepare for disasters by expanding flood control and renovating buildings, as well as funding to help low-income families cover heating and cooling costs.

Electricity bills for Americans are expected to rise 20% to an average of $540 for this summer, compared to the same period last year, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association. It comes at a time when consumers are already battling the highest inflation in 40 years as prices for food, gasoline and other essentials soar.

But not all of this increase in energy bills is due to an increase in usage. The rise is partly fueled by a rise in the price of natural gas, which is used to generate electricity. Natural gas prices have surged this year following a drop in production during the pandemic, as well as war-induced shortages in Ukraine.

The heat wave in Europe is adding pressure to the continent’s energy crisis. Electricity prices are already on the rise as Russia chokes off Europe’s natural gas supply. One of Germany’s largest electricity producers, Uniper, is seeking a government bailout after rising energy prices and growing demand for electricity amid soaring temperatures drained cash from the company.

The mercury hit a record high of 104 F in the UK this week, a country not used to such extreme temperatures. The average temperature in the UK in July is 75 F so far, and most homes and businesses do not have air conditioners. The Met Office, the country’s national weather service, has warned that the heat will have “widespread impacts on people and infrastructure”. Luton Airport, north London, suspended flights on Monday after record heat caused a surface fault on the runway, while the country’s main rail network urged people to only travel by case “absolutely necessary”.

Analysts say the sweltering heat comes at the height of tourist season for Europe and threatens foot traffic at retailers as shoppers choose to stay indoors.

Record temperatures and wildfires in France, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, which is suffering one of its worst droughts on record, are destroying crops, pushing already high food prices even higher. According to a report by the Joint Research Center of the European Commission, more than half of the 27 countries of the European Union now face the threat of drought, aggravated by extreme heat.

According to a study carried out last year by European economists and climate experts published in the journal Nature Communicationheat waves have on average reduced overall annual economic growth across Europe by as much as 0.5% over the past decade.

Italian authorities in the northern Lombardy region have said 70% of crops have disappeared in the Po delta and are warning that water supplies for agriculture could run out by the end of July. Italian farmers’ association Coldiretti said each fire costs Italians about $25,000 an acre to rebuild, and the group estimates wheat production in Italy will fall by 15% due to increased costs. production and drought.

“We are working carefully, alongside different associations,” Lombard President Attilio Fontana told a press conference in Milan on Tuesday. “Unfortunately the only thing we can hope for is that it starts to rain again.”

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