Global warming could make the number of days too hot to work outdoors, almost DOUBLE to 39, by 2050, posing a serious threat to agriculture
- Researchers at Stanford and University of Washington studied the effects that climate change is expected to have on the safety of agricultural workers
- By 2050, the number of days too hot to safely work outside will double to 39
- The temperature rises are a major threat to the health of ag workers
Climate change will make it even more difficult for farmers in the coming decades, with almost double the number of days it will be too hot to work safely outside.
According to a new study by Stanford and the University of Washington, the number of days the daily heat index gets too high for safe outdoor work will rise from the current average of 21 a year to 39 by 2050.
By 2100, the team estimates that there will be 62 days each growing season when the daily temperature index becomes too dangerous for long-term exercise outdoors.
A new study found that climate change nearly doubles the number of days it’s too hot to work safely outdoors during each growing season in the U.S., from 21 to 39 in 2050 and 62 in 2100
“I was surprised by the magnitude of the change – seeing a doubling of unsafe mid-century days and then tripling by 2100,” said Stanford researcher and lead author Michelle Tigchelaar YOUR News.
“And we think that’s a low estimate.”
The daily heat index is an expression of how warm it feels when humidity is included in the standard air temperature, similar to the wind chill factor.
To arrive at their conclusions, the team combined recent daily heat index data from all crops in the United States and calculated how current climate change models will affect those regions in the coming decades.
While previous studies on climate change and the agricultural sector have focused on crop yields, the team felt it was important to consider the impact of rising temperatures on workers, who often work shifts of 12 and 14 hours under harsh conditions.
“The people who are most vulnerable are asked to take the greatest risk, so that we as consumers can eat a healthy, nutritious diet,” says Tigchelaar.
The team combined current daily heat index data from all crops in the United States with estimates of climate change for the coming decades. Previous studies on agriculture and climate change have focused on crop health, but the team wanted to look at the effect on workers
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are officially 1 million people who work as pickers for the U.S. agricultural industry, but industry analysts estimate that the actual figure is likely to be more than 2 million when those who do not work according to the books are taken into account .
Ag workers are particularly vulnerable, as most have no health insurance and many are from outside the U.S. and have no legal status to work in the U.S., making them reluctant to seek medical attention or report safety concerns to employers.
The team was inspired to start the study after hearing of the death of a blueberry picker in Washington state, Honesto Silva Ibarra, who died of dehydration after a long and grueling shift in 2017.
The researchers identified four main mitigation measures that can be used to deal with extreme heat.
These include slowing down the expected pace of work, providing refrigerated hiding places for breaks, implementing longer breaks, and wearing thinner and more breathable clothing for high temperatures.
Farm operators should make at least three of these four changes to compensate for temperature increases.
WHAT IS THE PARIS AGREEMENT?
The Paris Agreement, which was first signed in 2015, is an international agreement to manage and mitigate climate change.
He hopes to keep the rise in global mean temperature below 2 ° C (3.6 ° F) and to continue efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 ° C (2.7 ° F).
It seems that the more ambitious goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 ° C (2.7 ° F) is more important than ever, according to earlier research that 25 percent of the world could see drier conditions significantly would increase.
In June 2017, President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the U.S., the world’s second largest producer of greenhouse gases, from the agreement.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has four main objectives with regard to reducing emissions:
1) A long-term goal to keep the global average temperature rise well below 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels
2) Aim to limit the increase to 1.5 ° C, as this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change
3) Governments agreed that global emissions should peak as soon as possible, realizing that this will take longer for developing countries
4) Then implement rapid reductions in accordance with the best available science