A Hotter World is A Poorer World


Personally, one of the reasons I am so concerned about climate change is that I, quite literally, can’t stand the heat.  One of the hardest things for me to adjust to since I moved to Texas is the extreme heat.  Its not that I miss the North Dakota winters of my youth but I would trade August in Texas for January in North Dakota any day of the week.  Anytime the temperature goes over 90 degrees Fahrenheit I get cranky, upset, and depressed and I refuse to go outside.  Even if the world gave up fossil fuels tomorrow we have already baked in 1.5 degree temperature increase which means the number of 95 degree days per year are going to increase considerably.  Extreme heat just makes life more miserable.  It not only leads to drought, decreased crop production, and violence.  It also appears to make people poorer.  A new study makes the connection between extreme heat and lifetime earnings.

“A new study suggests that even days that are an average of 90 degrees Fahrenheit, or 32 Celsius, might have long-term, negative impacts on developing fetuses. The stress of the hot weather might show up as reduced human capital once those fetuses reach adulthood.

Maya Rossin-Slater, a health-policy professor at Stanford University, said she and her team wanted to understand the long-term consequences of climate change on people. For the study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, she and other researchers looked at data on births, weather, and earnings in half the states in the United States. For a given county, on a given day, they measured how many days above 90 degrees a child born that day would have experienced during gestation and during their first year of life. They then compared that person’s salary as an adult to someone born in that same county on that same day in other years.

It turned out fetuses and infants exposed to a single extra 90-plus degree day made $30 less a year, on average, or $430 less over the course of their entire lifetimes. Right now, the average American only experiences one such day a year. (This study looked at the average temperature throughout the entire day, not the highest temperature that day.) By the end of the century, there will be about 43 such days a year.”

Not something I am looking forward to.

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