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Climate Change may Compel Mumbai to Change its Working Hours: Study

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Global warming and climate change have affected the weather if the cities of India significantly. Instances of unseasonal rainfall, floods, droughts and other natural phenomena have been a hindrance to the normal way of life. The air pollution in the capital of India has compelled the shut down of several schools and resort to working from homes. A new study has revealed that climate change might soon begin disrupting the work-life in Mumbai as well.

Changing Weather Phenomena in Mumbai

Mumbai, also known as the financial capital of India, has already been witnessing a shift in weather patterns. In 2021, the coastal city experienced stronger-than-usual thunderstorms in October, unseasonal rains in November, and warmer temperatures in December. While these changes are already influencing the daily lives of the city dwellers to some extent, they may also have a more drastic impact in the coming years.

Study by the Duke University

According to a recent study published by Duke University in the internationally acclaimed journal Nature Communications, if the current pollution and carbon emission trends continue, the work involving intense labour may be required to shift to early morning or late evening.
The study observed that on average, from noon onwards, the temperatures in Mumbai begin to ascend beyond 26°C. These temperature levels along with the city’s high humidity are already impacting individuals involved in heavy labour, resulting in a loss of around 4-5 working minutes per hour. This amounts to a loss of an entire hour in a 12-hour working day. And with every slight climate change-induced increase in the temperatures, the number of ‘cool hours’ during the day would only reduce further, adversely affecting work involving heavy labour duty in the process.
“There are physiological limits to the heat/humidity combinations that humans can tolerate. On larger grounds, the world currently loses $280-311 billion (₹21 lakh crore-₹23.5 lakh crore) per year due to workers struggling in hot, humid conditions. Thus, if the world gets 2°C hotter than now (about 3°C above pre-industrial levels), those losses would rise to $1.6 trillion (₹120 lakh crores)”, the study states.
Overall, the number of hours lost in a 12-hour workday could increase from 101 billion (10100 crores) hours per °C in the last 42 years, to 197 billion (79100 crores) hours per °C (+/- 1100 crore hours) with an additional 2°C of global warming, the research has suggested.
Moreover, as the globe continues to warm, such labour losses will be observed not just in the tropics and subtropics areas, but also in the mid-latitudes.
This is the first-of-its-kind study at a global scale to assess how effective it would be to shift heavy work during the cooler hours of the day as a solution to adapt to climate change.
The study has remarked that at present, withdrawing labour work from the hottest three hours of the day can recoup as much as 30% of productivity losses. However, this may lead to other issues, such as poor sleep and rest due to the change in schedule and the increasingly hot, humid weather.