At this point, a large number of us perceive that we are confronting a climate emergency on a huge scale and that rising temperatures will threaten the lives of millions over the planet. Extreme heatwaves have just killed a huge number of people over the previous decade, however, what is less perceived is that rising temperatures are also, slowly without a doubt, bringing increasingly dangerous heat stress into our daily lives.

Aerial cloud sunset.
Photo by Christian Seeling / Unsplash

Working in high temperatures is dangerous since heat prevents the body from adequately cooling, causing the core body temperature to rise. The longer the body stays overheated, the greater the risk of heat-related illnesses, for example, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke and, in extreme circumstances, death.

Heat fatalities are already occurring. This late spring, we collaborated on research that analyzed the deaths of Nepalese development workers in Qatar and demonstrated the deadly impact of heat stress during the hottest months. We found that many deaths could have been avoided if workers had not been forced to toil for long periods outside in burning heat.

On the other side of the world, many youthful sugar cane harvesters in Central America have died from chronic kidney failure linked to excessive sweating and dehydration during heavy open-air work.

As the number and intensity of hot days increases, increasingly working individuals will face considerably greater people to avoid heat stress, especially the 66% of the worldwide population who live in tropical and sub-tropical territories. Heat exhaustion threaten the vocations of millions and undermines endeavors to reduce poverty.

The Mekong Delta
Photo by Anne Lin / Unsplash

We were first confronted by the issue of hot working conditions while visiting factories in Vietnam where excessive heat truly influenced production during the hottest months of the year. Around the same time, we were part of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting writing about the impacts of climate change on population health. We listened as successive speakers reported on the impacts of climate change on agriculture, forestry, and different industries. Not one referenced the impacts of heat on working individuals.

A long-time later and the threat to human health and economic survival from excessive heat exposure still gets little consideration in the debate about the global climate emergency. However, the few analyses available on the negative economic impacts of heat on working individuals and their labor productivity demonstrate significant impacts. The International Labor Organization expected global productivity losses equal to 80 million full-time occupations that could happen by 2030 in the hottest nations.

It isn't enough to state that air conditioning or changing our working patterns will get over the health threat of excessive heat. For the most influenced, this is just impractical. A migrant worker in Qatar or a sewing machine operator in Vietnam often have little control over their workplace or the possibly deadly levels of heat stress to which they might be exposed. Global heating is a big threat both to workers' lives and the livelihoods of a huge number of individuals. Emerging policies on climate must consider on the off chance that we are to get any chance of getting to grips with what is coming.