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Labour productivity may dip 40% by 2100 amid climate crisis: Study

Labour productivity may dip 40% by 2100 amid climate crisis: Study
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New Delhi: Climate change is likely to cause labour productivity in India to drop as low as 40 per cent by the end of the century, endangering the world’s ability to produce food, according to a research report published in the journal Global Change Biology.

The report further predicts that other regions in Southeast and South Asia, West and Central Africa, and northern South America are likely to see a reduction in physical work capacity to as much as 70 per cent.

“Assessments consistently conclude that climate change will reduce crop yields, making food security challenges worse,” said study lead Gerald Nelson, a professor at the University of Illinois, US, reported the news agency PTI.

“But it’s not only crops and livestock that are affected. The agricultural workers who plant, till, and harvest much of the food we need will also suffer due to heat exposure, reducing their ability to undertake work in the field,” Nelson said.

To anticipate the physical work capacity (PWC), which is “an individual’s work capacity relative to an environment without any heat stress,” under several projected climate change scenarios, the study used computational models.

The models were created by Loughborough University in the United Kingdom using data from over 700 heat stress trials. These studies entailed monitoring workers in various meteorological conditions, such as wind and harsh sun, as well as a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels.

The highest work capacity that people might achieve in a cold climate was used as the benchmark for representing 100 per cent physical work capacity, according to the researchers.

Even in cases where an individual is driven to work, Reductions in capacity mean people are limited in what they can physically do. As a result, farmers may have to hire more labourers to do the same tasks, or there is a chance that none are available, leading to a lower amount of crops they grow, states the report.

According to the study, half of all farmers worldwide are predicted to operate below 86 per cent capacity in “recent past” (1991–2010) climate conditions. This indicates that agricultural workers are already feeling the heat. The researchers also considered potential modifications to lessen the impact of climate change on agricultural workers.

They claimed that switching to nighttime or shade work to lessen direct sun radiation has been demonstrated to increase worker productivity by 5 to 10 per cent. A second option suggested by the researchers is to increase the global use of mechanical machinery and equipment, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where agricultural practices primarily involve hard physical labour.


Press Trust of India

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