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In the face of climate change, it’s time to rethink regular work hours


According to a first-of-its-kind study, working at night or in the cool of the morning could spare outdoor laborers extreme heat exposure—at least for the time being.

About 30% of the work hours currently being lost to extreme heat could be recovered if work schedules shifted from some of the hottest hours of the day to some of the coolest, according to a new study.

The findings suggest a strategy to help human societies adapt to climate change – but one that becomes less effective as the planet heats further.

“Working in hot and humid environments can be dangerous because high temperatures combined with high humidity limit the body’s ability to cool itself by sweating,” explains study team member Luke Parsons , a postdoctoral researcher studying the impacts of climate change at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

“Workers in many hot and humid locations are already stopping or slowing work in the middle of the day because it is too uncomfortable or unsafe to conduct heavy labor,” Parsons says. These conditions affect hundreds of millions of workers in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and construction, especially in the tropics.

Shifting work schedules is one of several strategies that have been suggested to cope with dangerous […]

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