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Global warming: Heat stress hits labour productivity

Published on Feb 25, 2013 2:10 AM

PARIS (AFP) - Heat stress from global warming may be having an impact on outdoor work productivity in hot regions like northern Australia, South-east Asia and the southern United States, a study said on Sunday.

In recent decades, rising temperatures and higher humidity reduced labour capacity, on paper at least, by 10 per cent during the hottest months, it says. And by 2050, labour capacity - the ability to maintain efficiency in outdoor work - could fall by 20 per cent, it warns. Farm workers, construction labourers and the military are among the sectors most exposed to hotter, steamier conditions.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, uses a computer model that simulates warming and a rise in humidity and their impact on strenuous outdoor activity.

The most vulnerable regions are the Arabian peninsula, the Indian sub-continent, South-east Asia, northern Australia and the greater Caribbean region, including the lower Mississippi Valley, according to Mr John Dunne of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory.

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