Potsdam Institute: Globalisation Worsens the Impact of Climate Change

Construction related to the red line subway on the intersection Washington and State in downtown Chicago.

Not the tropics, but still a demonstration of nighttime construction – construction related to the red line subway on the intersection Washington and State in downtown Chicago. By Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to the Potsdam Institute, globalisation will worsen the impact of climate change, because greater global trade flows make us more dependent on regions which are likely to suffer climate related heat stress. But some of their assumptions are a little questionable.

The abstract of the study;

Assessing global impacts of unexpected meteorological events in an increasingly connected world economy is important for estimating the costs of climate change. We show that since the beginning of the 21st century, the structural evolution of the global supply network has been such as to foster an increase of climate-related production losses. We compute first- and higher-order losses from heat stress–induced reductions in productivity under changing economic and climatic conditions between 1991 and 2011. Since 2001, the economic connectivity has augmented in such a way as to facilitate the cascading of production loss. The influence of this structural change has dominated over the effect of the comparably weak climate warming during this decade. Thus, particularly under future warming, the intensification of international trade has the potential to amplify climate losses if no adaptation measures are taken.

Read more: http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/6/e1501026.full

So what assumptions does the study make? Aside from the rather questionable assumption that a larger network of potential suppliers increases vulnerability to supply shock, the following caught my eye;

Although physiological heat stress is influenced by a number of meteorological factors (14), it has been shown that labor productivity declines quasilinearly with temperature above a threshold that is estimated to be ≥25°C (15–22). Reductions in labor supply associated with temperature shocks are observed mainly but not exclusively (23, 24) in industries exposed to outdoor temperature, such as forestry, mining, and construction (25).

Following a recent econometric study (16), the effect of temperature on labor supply is computed proportional to the daily temperature above 27°C. As suggested by the data, the production of the sectors of construction, agriculture and fishing, and mining and quarrying is reduced by a factor of 0.6, 0.8, and 4.2%, respectively, for each degree above this threshold (table S1). Exemplary time series for the South Korean construction and the Ecuadorian agriculture sector (fig. S1) show the shock-like daily heat stress forcing on the production.

Read more: Same link as above

The authors seem to be suggesting that every degree above 25C (77F), or is it 27C, there is a substantial drop in productivity.

My personal view is this assumption is nonsense. As noted in a previous post, I used to work in a factory in Melbourne. In Summer the internal temperature of the factory frequently exceeded 50C (120F). The work was manual, but not physically demanding – it involved operating a heated press once every few minutes, shifting pressed rubber components which weighed a few kilos, then loading the press with fresh raw material. New employees had difficulty with the heat and polluted air, but after a week or two your body adapts, and you just get on with it.

As long as your labour is mechanised, the human body functions well at temperatures far in excess of anything likely to be encountered in a warmer world.

What about physically demanding work in tropical heat? Fortunately there is an adaptive solution for this contingency. Its called working at night. In cities in the far tropics, activities like construction are sometimes performed at night, when the temperature drops to around 20C (68F), using a blaze of high intensity artificial lights to turn night into day.

Of course you need access to cheap energy and good lighting equipment, to work at night.

Advertisements

63 thoughts on “Potsdam Institute: Globalisation Worsens the Impact of Climate Change

  1. To the extent that many greenies endorse globalization and all the power appertaining to such, it seems to me they have a hard decision to make.

    • I’ve never seen a greenie endorse globalization. Never.
      This stitch-up reveals itself using faked global warming as a lever to attack globalization, their other hatred.

      • They seem to like globalisation when they all fly off to one of their big parties, in Paris, Rio, Copenhagen, etc.

      • I think they are against globalisation when it’s about trade, commerce and economic success
        but in favour of globalisation when it’s to do with the UN, socialism and telling everyone else how to live their lives

      • FACTS
        French Ameri-Can Climate TalkS
        Series of events organized by the government of France in the U.S. and Canada in 2014-2015 prior to COP21.
        Partners included:
        UNEP
        Pembina Institute, Canada
        Globe and Mail Newspaper, Canada, owned by Thomson Reuters
        And others in the U.S.
        http://www.facts.france-science.org/partners
        ——————————————————————————–
        Panelists for the French Ameri-Can TalkS included:
        Megan Cernosky, Office of Energy and Climate Change, White House
        Robert Diamond, Special Assistant to the President, White House
        http://www.facts.france-science.org/panelists

      • Other Ameri-Can panelists included:
        Susan Hassol, WMO
        Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver

  2. Well since the tropics are already saturated with the GHG Di-hydrogen Monoxide (demonstrated by night time temps in the high 20s) and the “most affected” areas are the Arctic and the (coincidentally volcanic) Antarctic Peninsula: Unless the global supply chain moves to Anchorage and Ushuaia I don’t think we have much to worry about there.
    Another little known climate adaptation mechanism: Air conditioning.

    • Air conditioning costs money, both to install and operate. It is highly unusual in Asia outside of the pharma, food processing and electronics sectors (manufacturing, that is, not retail).

  3. I think I read the whole article and my one and only reaction is still “UHH”. From the article:
    Although physiological heat stress is influenced by a number of meteorological factors (14), it has been shown that labor productivity declines quasilinearly with temperature above a threshold that is estimated to be ≥25°C (15–22). Reductions in labor supply associated with temperature shocks are observed mainly but not exclusively (23, 24) in industries exposed to outdoor temperature, such as forestry, mining, and construction (25).
    Again ? UHH?

    • Yep my response as well.
      People up in the cool north-west corner of the planet write papers about heat stress? Uhh?
      Do a word search on the link and the word humidity does not appear. So, they know nothing about the relationship between temperature and humidity. 37°C and RH 95% + only very rarely occurs in nature, but can be induced in artificial environments, where 37°C / RH 95% is likely to be lethal if prolonged and there is no airflow. 34°C and RH 35% is comfortable. 29°C and RH 90% is uncomfortable.

    • At a monsoon driven 120-degrees on the desert, work-time is limited to 15 minutes per hour. The amount of time allowed is determined by wet-bulb readings. This changes drastically with the addition of shade. Using a fan changes things even further.

    • A single mention of humidity in a paper about human heat tolerance? Pfft, not in climastrology, that would be like mentioning sediment advection or ground water discharge in an ocean acidification paper.

  4. “Thus, particularly under future warming, the intensification of international trade has the potential to amplify climate losses if no adaptation measures are taken.”
    I wonder exactly what adaptation measures they anticipate will ‘make a difference’.
    How about a nice big glass of ice cold Koolaid? Yes! That should do nicely.

  5. Apologies for off-topic comment, I couldn’t help noticing the building in the background on the corner which is the Reliance Building (Burnham & Co 1894) which is of historic significance as it was the last of a series of early steel-framed buildings constructed during the boom following the Great Fire classified as the Chicago School, precursors of modernism a generation or two later.
    http://c1038.r38.cf3.rackcdn.com/group1/building7811/media/ronv_reliancebuildingpostcard.jpg
    http://www.connectingthewindycity.com/2012_08_01_archive.html

  6. Federal buildings are cooled to 78F in the summer. I guess that explains the lack of productivity.

    • Back in the 70’s when Carter put in his energy mandates. I had a friend who worked in my school’s computer center. To control humidity in the computer rooms, the air was chilled to a fairly low temperature (it’s been almost 40 years, I don’t remember the exact number.) If they let the humidity rise too high, it would have been bad for the computers. So to save energy, management decided to not heat up the air as much after it had been chilled.
      As a result, during one of the hottest summers Atlanta had seen in decades, my fried actually managed to come down with pneumonia.
      He also managed to be stricken with malaria while living in Canada.
      The poor guy had no luck whatsoever.

  7. If there were a singular cause to any abstract “global warming” it would be globalization. Imports would not be taxed higher, but flat out Banned in that abstract.
    There is No Way a Seattle or Vancouver based environmentalist would go without Arabica coffee beans though, Plow them a $100 barrels of oil to get it to them.

  8. And now for something completely different! These yo-yos apparently gave no thought to the gains in productivity from warmer weather in cold countries! I guess they never tried construction at -30C. Trucks won’t start, roads are sometimes impassable, you have to work in heavy clothing. For fine work you have to remove your gloves, which gives you about 5 mins. max, and take warm up breaks. Try doing ground work after New Year with the ground frozen 3-6 ft down. Breakdowns are more common and people are much less productive. This is laughable crap!

    • John Harmsworth says, “I guess they never tried construction at -30C.” It’s pretty hard to pour concrete at -30C, as well. (No pun intended – it’s just too darn cold, and the concrete becomes brittle.)

  9. Human comfort is a function of several factors, namely temperature, relative humidity and wind. In addition to weather conditions other factors like pollution [Air, Water & Food, odour] and noise pollution, open space or indoors [indoors reduce oxygen content], etc.
    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  10. I work in construction in the UK and lose days when it is cold not hot. Often go off doing a bit of private snow clearing then.

  11. “As long as your labour is mechanised, the human body functions well at temperatures far in excess of anything likely to be encountered in a warmer world.”
    Eric
    You’re underselling humans. Having spent quite a few summers in the warmer parts of Australia on the end of axes, crowbars and shovels etc and lived to tell you about it. And the things we were building are still there.
    There were a lot of other purely physical occupations that didn’t quit till it was winter.
    And what about the women and camp cooks in the kitchens of the day with wood fired stoves and negligible mod cons?

    • I spent most of 40 years doing masonry work –in Texas. As mentioned above we lost more work days during the winter months (masonry cement does freeze) than weather related days off during the heat of spring, summer, and fall. Tried to follow the shade around the job, but the south side had to be worked on too. Don’t recall a single time it was too hot to work.

    • I spent two years building electrical kits in an unheated, unairconditioned warehouse south of Tampa.
      We used those big two foot fans set up a few feet from the bench.
      By the end of the day, your hair was slicked straight back, but we stayed cool.

  12. These results are absurd. Living standardds in the tropics have never been higher.
    The only reason why living standards might rise less rapidly tan in the recent past is that some tropical and subtropical countries might impose upon their produces the same restrictive policies as in the US, Europe and Australia in a vain attempt to control climate.
    Governments, not Nature, worsen the impact of climate change by raising the prices of energy.

      • The price of just about everything will go up in Alberta.
        The Demand Side Management of electricity in Ontario has caused prices to increase in Ontario through high priced electricity. Many have already been forced into energy poverty in Ontario.

  13. I almost read the header as – the Potsdam Institute worsens the impact of climate change.
    Which would be a reasonable claim.
    Insane and unjustified speculative alarmism -> leads to mass hysteria -> leads to bureaucratic control of energy supply and industry -> leading to inefficiency, waste of resources and economic stagnation.
    The Potsdam crew know exactly what they are doing.
    Everything that they ever say is alarmism taken to the very maximum stretch of human imagination and the maximum tolerance of human gullibility.

  14. Just drove to work here in Houston. Temp is 79 deg F (26 C). Guess our highway construction will come to a grinding halt by noon.

    • No, only the traffic will come to a grinding halt by noon. The highway construction will go on forever.

  15. Globalization probably makes us more secure, not less. I can not imagine the Irish Potato Famine happening anywhere in the developed world today.
    The Soviets used to make up for failed harvests by buying wheat from Canada.
    My mother was raised on the prairies during the dirty thirties. She big bags of beans coming from down east as relief packages.
    Transportation is a wonderful thing and has probably saved many people from starvation.

  16. announcements:
    According to the Potsdam Institute, globalisation will worsen the impact of climate change, because greater global trade flows make us more dependent .
    ______________________________
    make it to
    According to the Potsdam Institute infamous announcements
    globalisation will worsen the impact of climate change, because
    insinuated greater global trade flows make us more dependent on
    infamous Potsdam Institute announcements.

  17. What a tractor-trailer load of horse manure. As usual, they confuse and conflate weather with climate.

  18. From the article: “So what assumptions does the study make? Aside from the rather questionable assumption that a larger network of potential suppliers increases vulnerability to supply shock”
    The authors are assuming humans have caused changes to the Earth’s climate in the past and will cause more changes in the future. They are making these assumptions without any evidence to back them up. They are indulging in speculation, not in describing the real world.
    *All* these studies are making one basic false assumption: That humans are causing the climate to change. There is no evidence that this is the case.

  19. This is yet another form of cherry picking where they count the negatives and ignore the positives. In outdoor work, productivity lost because of excessive heat in summer would more than be offset by increases in productivity during more temperate days in winter, spring and fall.

  20. The “high” temperatures just keep going lower and lower. Now we’re down to 77 degrees as the highest people are productive at? These people live in a fantasy world and hope we do, too.

  21. Misspecified models are enhanced by dire headlines and CO2 mongering, with incentives to distort.

  22. “What about physically demanding work in tropical heat? Fortunately there is an adaptive solution for this contingency. Its called working at night.”
    This is not an option for factories and warehouses, they typically operate 24 hours per day. And yes, increased temperatures definitely impact productivity: https://epic.uchicago.edu/epic-india-5

    • Yeah, it’s always fun when Greenies pretend they are interested in, or have the slightest clue about productivity or economics.

      • A standard Bruce Cobbreply, attack the poster without providing any refutation whatsoever of the content.

  23. Leftists generally oppose productivity as it allows employers to get the same amount of work done using fewer employees.

    • Right, like the IT industry, which leans heavily Democratic and produces tools that have enable massive increases in productivity across both office work and the industrial sector.

  24. The PIK is a nest of green camouflaged Communists. Look at :”Die große Transformation” by Ottmar Edenhofer. The “PIK-scientists” (Potsdamer Institut für Klimafolgenforschung/Potsdam Institute for reseach on climatechange-effects) give advise to Chanc. Merkel, and they are responsible for the completely insane “Energiewende” (change to “renewables”) whose subsidiaries cost more than Germanys total electric power requirements if produced by conventional power plants! They are ultimate climate alarmists,who constantly prate of heat waves, storms, rising sea levels by more than 10ft and the doomsday if we do not repent and go back to the lifestyle of “Fred Flintstone”!
    The world consists of protons, neutrons and electrons, but in Potsdam also from morons!

    • alacran

      The world consists of protons, neutrons and electrons, but in Potsdam also from morons!

      I am s-o-o-o stealing that!

      • I am ashamed,I haven’t got copyright, I found it in a cartoon on WUWT some days ago! But in fact , you have to add quark(s) and in German Quark is a sort of curd cheese!

      • Don’t despair, Mark – Helsinki. The paired sub-particles that make up the neurons are neurotics and psychotics.
        When you put protons,electrons, neutrons, morons, neurons, neurotics, and psychotics in a big blender and push the puree button for 5-10 seconds, you get… Jumbo-trons!, which are easily visible to the naked eye at most sports venues.

    • Its a worry, I’ve visited some of the big Asian cities, Taipei, Hong Kong, Seoul, its like stepping into the future – shows how far we’re slipping behind.

  25. The PIK may be misleaden due to a lack of experience. Wherefrom they have this figures for drop of efficiency? If one does manual physical work (shovel), the reductions in efficiency may fit. In a mechanized work process, If you control an earth moving machine, no more. They also may apply to rowing a boat, but not to present shipping with motor ships. Marine engineers have to work under 50°C sometimes, and take breaks under aircondition.
    So the study of the PIK is fit for the 18. century, not for today. Means outdated from the beginning.

Comments are closed.