The Sky is Falling Friday Part 3: Global warming could result in losses for the European wine industry

Public Release: 12-Jul-2017

Slight increases in temperature in Mediterranean regions from global warming could potentially result in labor, productivity and economic losses for the European wine industry, an article in the journal Temperature suggests.

Researchers studied the effects of high temperatures on the labor output and productivity of manual agricultural grape-picking workers in the wine production industry in Cyprus, who often work in conditions of up to 36 degrees Celsius.

They found that higher temperatures in the working conditions during the summer correlated with a significant labor loss of up to 27%, due to the environmental heat causing increased perceived exertion on worker’s metabolic and cardiovascular systems and resulting in reduced output.

When temperatures increased, there was also a 15% decrease in the amount of time workers were able to carry out their duties due to the increased need for irregular and unplanned work breaks.

These research findings demonstrate that workplace heat, specifically in European agricultural workers, is accompanied by significant labor and productivity losses. With the wine industry comprising of 0.2% of world GDP, increased temperatures from global warming may negatively impact the industry and even potentially result in large losses worldwide.

For this study, the authors specifically chose to study grape-picking workers, as the production of wine is still largely dominated by manual labor unlike other industries and therefore the effects of global warming on workers in this industry is highly likely to more prevalent.

The authors warned that this research should not be considered an exhaustive large scale study of the impact of global warming on agriculture workers, and broader studies involving more workers and different locations should be undertaken in order to full assess the full impact.

The study is the first of its kind in Europe assessing the impact of workplace heat on European agriculture workers. The researchers used an innovative approach to assess labor output and productivity of seven workers called time-motion analysis which can analyse every second spent by each worker during every work shift.

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The article represents a study within a research program funded by the European Union and led by an international consortium of scientists (HEAT-SHIELD). The overall goal of this work is to study the complex effects of climate change on the European society.

The study has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No 668786

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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86 thoughts on “The Sky is Falling Friday Part 3: Global warming could result in losses for the European wine industry

  1. They just need to get the amazingly tough and hard working mexican laborers who won’t be able to get in to the US to work in the fields. They won’t have problems with a little extra heat (I’ve worked with them). They also will be available thanks to The Wall and draconian policies of the Trump administration. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2013/05/15/north-carolina-needed-6500-farm-workers-only-7-americans-stuck-it-out/?utm_term=.a2150749a004

    • “They just need to get the amazingly tough and hard working mexican laborers who won’t be able to get in to the US to work in the fields.”

      They will if they get a work visa, obviously.

    • This will only happen as the Wine Grape growing region expands into Northern England, Scotland and Ireland and eventually into Greenland. Otherwise little French children might never know what Whine is

    • I am stunned…the disclaimer led me to doubt whether this HEAT-SHIELD project actually exits. It does.

      “HEAT-SHIELD is an Integrated inter-sector project funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research programme. The project is dedicated to improve heat resilience in European workers…”

      They refer to it as “Global Heating” not “Global Warming” btw… excuse me now while I bang my head on the table to make the pain go away.

      For more info and what looks like a worker in the heated future being beaten to increase productivity (2nd picture) go to >

      https://www.facebook.com/HEATSHIELD.eu/

      • “…should not be considered an exhaustive study…..” No a mind numbing miniscule, intellectual masturbation group think exercise.

    • Wow
      ‘7 workers’
      True – the authors do say: –
      “The authors warned that this research should not be considered an exhaustive large scale study of the impact of global warming on agriculture workers, and broader studies involving more workers and different locations should be undertaken in order to full assess the full impact.”

      So what is the point?

      Ahh – grant money!!
      Gosh, I understand now. [Mods – /Sarc! Did you guess? Did you??]

      Auto
      Obviously in a slightly jaundiced mood this evening.

    • But they are not used to agricultural labour any more after being mollycoddled by over-benevolent Europeans.

      • that;s a nice way of putting it mate :D Welfare havens are widely sought after, you can earn 10 times your salary in many African countries by coming to the UK and getting the dole instead.

    • The problem with immigrants from the Middle East and Africa is not to get them to work where it’s hot, but to get them to work anywhere.

      • A -former Rhodesian railroad engineer once told me that his workers even managed to break pick axes if they felt like having a break. That’s why a break is called a break, and pick axes were in high demand in former Rhodesia…

      • Caustic!

        Auto – not a teacher, and still commuting on Southern Railways [When/If they run].
        Drivers’ Strike called for 1, 2, and 4 August.
        Current pay – for a 35 hour, 4-day [yes, FOUR-day] week is about £49,000 per year. About 55,000 Euros, or USD $ 60,000.
        Money offered is £60,000 (or a fraction more) in four years’ time – so about a five per cent per year rise.
        Every year, for FOUR years . . .

        If the drivers work a day’s overtime, they will be paid about £75,000 a year [five days, about 45 hours work].

        And this rise has been rejected.

        I need an emoji for ‘The Scream’ – but not sure how I could input one into WUWT.
        But – you see why?

        Political?
        Who knows??
        I don’t.

        But I may need to retire if I can only get in on three – or fewer – days a week.

        Auto – in South London, dependent on ‘Southern Railways’.
        Not very happily.
        Did you surmise that?

    • When it gets hot in the summer in Australia and Ontario they can only start their work day once the wind begins to blow.

  2. Why don’t they just get some mobile lights and start the work in the pre-dawn when it is cooler?

    I was doing a job that required the use of a detector which was cooled by liquid nitrogen. We changed work hours so we were working at night thereby needing less liquid nitrogen (which made the bean counters and safety people happy), less management around to get in the way (which made me happy) and except for occasionally having to reposition the lights, the work conditions were better.

    • Night harvest is common here in the Napa Valley, though done for wine quality rather than consideration of the workers comfort. The mobile lighting works extremely well. Also required by regulation for worker protection are conveniently located canopies for shade, water for hydration, portable bathrooms and mandatory breaks. In effect, worker safety regarding heat related injury is on the employer and no one wants their valuable work force to suffer. That said, no one here would blink at the idea of working in the sun at 36C (96.8). Those Cypriots need to toughen up. I’m sure Cyprus is as arid as California. Just wear a hat. Keep hydrated. Don’t whine.
      And no, they can’t have our vineyard workers. Anyway, they wouldn’t be able to afford them, give them and their families the health care insurance, profit sharing, retirement,and the paid vacation packages we give ours. They just need to move into the 21st century of agriculture.

    • They need more money to find out for sure. The more money the surer they will be. Right now they are only say $200,000 sure. On a call as important as this they need to be $1M sure.

  3. The unanswered question in this study is just how well the workers were acclimated. If the seven test subjects were, lets say, British undergraduates working in Spain. . .

    • For 40 + years I worked 10 + hour days as a mason and stone cutter in Texas where the temp was often 36 degrees C, or higher. No big deal back then–however now in my dotage, I find I do need to take more frequent and longer breaks during these July and August days. Suspect it’s my tolerance that has changed–not so much the climate

      • My husband was saying something similar. He used to work at mines, shift work, in extreme weather conditions, both hot and cold. As he’s gotten older, he has gravitated to jobs that are more indoors, or at least in air conditioned equipment, because the heat especially gets to him. When he was much younger, he put up steel buildings in the summer. Back then many people did not have A/C so were not so bothered by the hot labor conditions. It may be physical tolerance decreases with age or maybe we just decide it isn’t necessary to do the same kinds of work we did when we were younger.

      • The very young and those over a certain age have less ability to control body temperature. Staying hydrated, eating salty snacks, take breaks in the shade, use a spray bottle, stay active as you age — all and others will help.
        Do some reading on this and take precautions. Lots of info available.

  4. Sure, warming temperatures will ruin wine growing. That’s why wine reached well up into England during the medieval warm period and retracted south during the little ice age. It must also be why the Northern European vines are in such great shape after the spring frosts. I can’t wait to plant some fine Cabernet in the back yard when all that global warming reaches Calgary.

  5. Yeah, but it should do wonders for the Saskatchewan wine industry.

    I eagerly await the day I can enjoy a fine Moose Jaw pinot noir.

  6. Man, the alarmists are pulling out all the stops! Just read an article (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=4610087) discussing how beer production will fall due to lack of hops and barley – all due to global warming.
    So, the alarmists are going for our jugular: no more alcohol! This is bad! The other things we could fix: newer airplane tech (inevitable, anyway) and levees to protect cities from rising oceans (old tech from 1500 – 1800). But, no more beer or wine! OMG! The inhumanity!
    Somehow, I suspect we’ll adapt… if we have to, which is extremely doubtful.

    • That is full Dada. The price of barley will not go up. And the price of barley has little to do with price of beer.

      These people have no idea.

  7. Isn’t the warming mostly occurring at night anyway? And in more northerly latitudes?

    • Yup! Nights are warming faster than days. Long term computer projections of trends show that nights will be warmer than days by 2100. sarc

  8. No problem, just blend in the diethylene glycol again. Good for rinsing tooth brushes and where would Andrew Neil be without his favourite Brexit tipple? Whether anti-freeze has anything to do with nuns being blue is the eternal question. All tosh and noble rot to be sure, just get BASF to make up the shortfall (assuming it can avoid starting another humongous fire).

  9. “These research findings demonstrate that workplace heat, specifically in European agricultural workers, is accompanied by significant labor and productivity losses.” Really?? Seems to me that is suggests there may be productivity losses on Cyprus. Are there cultural factors affect summertime labor productivity? Who knows?

  10. My dad used to remind anyone, whenever “global warming” was mentioned, that the south of England was. wine country in Roman times

  11. Lots of open air work in my country like construction, garbage collection,… simply start earlier in the day and end before maximum temperatures are reached on hot summer days…

    And indeed the loss of labor in Cyprus may be a gain in more Nordic countries…

    • We replaced the house roof a few years ago. Mostly started at 7 AM and quit at Noon, or 90° F. if that came before Noon. We also wore white shirts with long sleeves.

  12. Funny how everything we like is “threatened by global warming” and everything we don’t will thrive. How does global warming know?

    • This study shows how malicious these researchers can be. Here in the Spanish region where I grew up harvest season begins in late September to early October, in autumn, (or fall, if you are from the USA) Never during the summer.

      A quick search on wikipedia shows that harvesting can start earlier in regions closer to the equator. Cyprus is mentioned as the place where harvesting starts the earliest. So, yeah, not only the study involves only 7 workers, but also it has been performed in the place where harvesting starts the earliest.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvest_(wine)#Harvest_season

  13. Global warming could result in losses for the European wine industry

    Losses? The Scandinavian wine industry might supplant the French?

    PS As long as hops are OK, who cares?

  14. The European wine industry is already loosing out! Got complacent, slept in, and the New World took over. Just another one of the many reasons why the UK needs to get out PDQ!

  15. Wow, all of the points about this pointless study have already been made. I guess I will have to sit back and comfort myself with a glass of Tawny Port from the hot and dry Douro River valley in Portugal. It is a good thing that the Portuguese still know how to make wine in a hot climate.

  16. I suppose it’s the ‘first study of its kind’ because up till now everyone thought it was fairly obvious that you had to work a little shower when it’s hot.
    But you can’t come to work earlier in the morning when it’s cooler. That’s a different study. We’re going to need more money.

    • Let’s drink that beautiful tasty Hereford wine…what, last harvest in Hereford was in 1453 ? What do you mean, Hereford lost thriving wine industry due to Little Ice age ?
      What about Finnish wines? What do you mean -southern Finland lost its wine industry to global cooling at the end of second millennium BC?
      If it would be warming that much then we all would just return to previous conditions, that is all…

      • Zurab Abayev July 14, 2017 at 2:55 pm
        Let’s drink that beautiful tasty Hereford wine…what, last harvest in Hereford was in 1453 ? What do you mean, Hereford lost thriving wine industry due to Little Ice age ?

        You are mistaken, the last harvest in Hereford was last year.
        Here’s one of the vineyards:
        http://coddingtonvineyard.co.uk

      • all vinery’s of the MWP still produce wine Phil, that’s very well known, What’s less known is that they produce it with different grape variants then during the MWP. Only our region Overijse does still produce the same wine…

        … but in small quantities as the grapes there grow in greenhouses not in open fields.

        and yes the vines are usually the Boskoop Glory (dutch name because a dutch variant) a very winter resistant variety. It makes also good wine though but younger more fruity table wine.and you bet they are heavenly good in taste for “normal consumption”.

        in short: do good research and you will know the grape variants changed in the north

      • Frederik Michiels July 17, 2017 at 3:39 am
        all vinery’s of the MWP still produce wine Phil, that’s very well known,

        So why did you claim that the last harvest of Hereford wine was in 1453, which was clearly false. The vineyard at Ledbury I referred to produced red and white wine until the end of the 17th century.

        What’s less known is that they produce it with different grape variants then during the MWP.

        Pinot gris (one of the variants grown there) was grown in the Middle Ages in Burgundy, was taken and grown in places such as Switzerland by Cistercian monks.
        Since that vineyard was operated for the Bishop of Hereford it’s possible that they used the Pinot gris, I’ve seen a reference to white muscadine perhaps being grown there but that seems unlikely since that is an american grape!

  17. It’s truly amazing humans have lasted as long as we have, being so incompetent, fragile and helpless that warming and cooling knock us flat in no time. How in the world did humans survive the fluctuations in weather from year to year? We should all be extinct at this point.

    • You are going to feel the urgent need to drink much more when it is getting hotter. Don’t worry. But dispose of the empty bottles thoughtfully. Santé!

  18. Not only the Portugese but also the rest of the world. European wine grapes grow all over the world. Here in central California there is a 100 year old industry filling tons and tons of product; Grape growing is a huge industry it can be found in every US state as well as other parts of North and South America. Australia and New Zealand also make wonderful wines as do most of the eastern European nations and recently China.

    Here locally most of the harvesting is done by large equipment In the Lodi area we have something like 103,000 acres (43,000 ha) planted to nearly every variety of vitus vinifera. Harvesting machines are manufactured in France, Australia, and the US. They travel down the row shaking the bejessus out of the vines as they pass over the trellis which allows the machine to collect all the good grapes and leave behind the raisins and the undeveloped green ones plus all the stems. A crew of 5 workers can manage one machine and its two attendant tractors towing large bins in adjacent aisles. Bigger fields may use multiple tractors / bins to keep the juice flowing. This way a handful of workers can harvest huge acerage day or night. Night harvest are especially desired as the grapes are cooler then, and stay cooler during transport to the wine processing centers.

    My wife and I personally own 5.5 acres planted to Cabernet Savignon. It makes a very fine wine especially when blended with other varieties, our 2014 crop has been blended with Petit Verdot and Merlot. 2015 and 2016 are still in the barrel. Our 2016 crop yielded 38,500 tons (US) of must and is aging well.

    So if Cyprus can’t keep up some part of the world will push it aside.

    • congrats on getting 38,500 tons from 5.5 acres. That’s 7000 tons per acre. Here in the Napa Valley we average 3.5 tons per acre. I knew the big valley had high yields, but that’s incredible. or perhaps the comma should have been a decimal point.

      • “Ameliorating wine is simply adding water to unfermented must
        with the purpose of making the finished wine better.”

        Mike’s good at this, it seems.
        ( or perhaps the comma should have been a decimal point.)

  19. I remember going to muster sheep at 4.00 in the afternoon and it was 113 degrees. Of course that was before AGW. In those days it was hot in Australia.

  20. The key to understanding this article is the word ‘potentially’. It is simply one of many so called models and forecasts of doom to come. Little or none of which has yet materialised.

  21. In India few years back, milk producing company reported saying the losses due to global warming is around 2000 crores. In fact that much amount changed hands. Same will be the case with grapes. The seasonal and annual variations along with weather related extremes are far far higher than that of GW [so far about 0.15 oC].

    Dr. S. Jeevanda Reddy

  22. Cyprus has Mediterranean and semi-arid type subtropical climate. It is about as far south EU goes. To illustrate the conditions:

    It lives mainly from tourism and related property developments. Until June 2012 Cyprus was in banking business and has been requesting foreign aid since. Perhaps a bit less nowadays due to a discovery of significant quantities of offshore natural gas. What should they do to save themselves? Expand agriculture?

  23. I thought the current treat to grapes was the European drought, caused not by global warming, but the Arctic cooling removing moisture from the air masses.

  24. The Cyprus grape harvest does not occur until September when average high temperature is around 26C ~ 80F. Warm but not bad working conditions for those acclimated as cypriot grape growers are. Work during the summer is tending the grapes not picking them. Thes conditions have existed for a long time yet somehow the wine business is still going. “Potentially” anything at all could happen couldn’t it?

  25. The only thing likely to kill the wine industry is the migrant invasion. They aren’t too crazy about alcohol, as I recall.

  26. Another could, maybe, if article because they don’t do any actual research that finds evidence, just speculation rubbish.

    How about doing some actual science like below and look at actual climate bands?

    How will 2 c or 3 c warming affect the climate of the planet?

    The differences between locations that are warmer by 2 c or 3 c are only around 300 miles apart. That means the climate moving north 300 miles IF this happened would be a problem for wine, how?

    Seville one of the hottest cities in Europe where wine tours show the local countryside vineyards.

    http://www.cellartours.com/spain/wine-tours/seville

    If the hottest region is successful with wine, then why are any other regions with a bit of warming going to have any problems?

    This is not a maybe, if or could because the evidence concludes that Seville can cope well, so virtually any other region will also cope well because the 300 mile movement north will make very little difference. Plus virtually all regions would still be cooler than here.

    • If you have 100 year old vines then they already have adapted to warmer temperatures during this time.

    • i don’t see a change to my vine… it’s the cold Boskoop glory and hardened vroege van der laan variant… They in fact produce more since 2013 when temperature in belgium made a ‘step up”.

      instead of being able to eat them in time i now share some with the neigbours :)

      If a happy neighbour is the price to pay for climate change then i am glad :)

      even the cold resistant vines thrive with better weather, they just had no problem with the late april freeze of this year, unlike the less resistant variants in the south.

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