In 2019, an almost unfathomable 18.2 billion hours of work were wiped out in Bangladesh due to the effects of heat exposure on working people, according to the 2020 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change.
This was equivalent to 6% of the global loss of potential work hours in 2019, with it the country stood at third highest in the world. Moreover, each Bangladeshi lost almost 148 work hours to extreme heat.
There is a widespread notion that climate change will affect only the future generation, but the current working generation and 65+ age people also are bearing the brunt.
The Lancet medical journal released the research report on 2 December showing how climate change is affecting labour productivity.
Across the globe, a potential 302.4 billion work hours were lost in 2019, which is about 103 billion hours more than that lost in 2000.
In 2000, Bangladesh lost 13.3 billion work hours. In 20 years, 36.84% work hours loss increased.
India (118.3 billion work hours) lost the highest amount of work hours due to the extreme heat. Highest co2 emitter China positioned in the second with 28.3 billion work hours lost, but the second highest emitter the US lost only 2 billion work hours in 2019.
Mentionable, Bangladesh emitted 85.7 tonnes co2 in 2018 with and positioned 45th emitter globally according to Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC).
Additionally, India is the third highest emitter.
While Cambodia having the highest per-capita loss of any country in 2019, amounting to 202.2 work hours.
The Lancet Countdown's fifth annual report – a collaboration between experts from more than 35 institutions including the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), and led by University College London – published on the 5th anniversary of the Paris Agreement, when the world pledged to limit global warming to well below 2°C.
It is noted that the estimates made by assuming all agricultural and construction work was in the shade or indoors and work hours lost per person were estimated for the population older than 15 years.
Director of the International Centre for Climate Change & Development (ICCCAD), Prof Saleemul Huq responded to The Business Standard through mail, "The recent Lancet report on health impacts of climate change has identified an important new health impact which had not been quantified before, namely the impacts of heat on loss of work at the national level, including Bangladesh. It will be important to take this new problem into account in future."
About 148 work hours per capita lost in 2019, Senior Advisor in an International Agency, environmental economist and Humboldt Scholar, Shafiqul Alam said "Global temperature is rising and Bangladesh is not exceptional".
"Although without study the methodology of the Lancet report, nothing can be said, the finding is relatable with International Labour Organization (ILO) report named "Working on a warmer planet: The impact of heat stress on labour productivity and decent work" published in July 2019, where ILO estimated sector wise working hours lost due to heat stress in 1995 and projected lost for 2030. The number in the current research is almost fitting with it".
On recommendation Mr. Alam said, "occupational health and safety issues should be under consideration for the workers"
Boomers are not save/Ok boomers
Most of the climate change denial are from boomers. However, temperature rising is taking a toll on the 65 years and above aged people too. In 2018, globally, 2.96 lakh 65 years older people fell victim of heat related mortality. Although the report did not show the number of fatalities in Bangladesh, China (62 thousand) faced the highest 65+ age heat related mortality followed by India (31 thousand) and Germany (20.2 thousand).
It is alarming to note, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on December 02 that this year is on track to be one of the three hottest on record, completing a run of six years that were all hotter than any year ever measured before.