“Outside, A Sun Strikes You Down”

Title after Paul Claudel’s “Heat of the Sun”

We observe how climate change continues to prompt extreme weather events around the world. We take note of sea-level changes reported by Boaty McBoatface, an autonomous British yellow submarine which just returned from its maiden voyage to the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. So, now might be as good a time as any to look at some of the research on how weather and climate affect our moods and ways of life.

The Season of Your Birth Could Affect Your Future Wealth

In this December 2017 study, researchers looked at tax records between 1969 and 1977 to discern the long-term effects of temperature on people’s economic wellbeing. The study then linked these 12 million individuals’ administrative earnings records from age 30 to “fine-scale, daily weather data and location and date of birth.” One of the conclusions of the study showed, “we find that an extra day with mean temperatures above 32-degrees Celsius (89.6-degrees Fahrenheit) in utero and in the first year after birth is associated with a 0.1 percent reduction in adult annual earnings at age 30.” Interestingly enough, however, the adoption of air conditioning mitigates most, if not all, of the projected temperature sensitivity. In other words, the heat of summer can influence earning potential in addition to birth weight and infant mortality, especially in places where a/c is not default. Moreover, while researchers note that the average person is exposed to about one hot day per year, the number of days new generations will be exposed to will increase “substantially” in the next several decades.

Hot Summer Nights May Equal Worse Sleep

Restless nights may have a thing or two to do with the weather. In my grandparents’ day, it was common to sleep on the screened-in porch or even outdoors to get relief in a pre-air-conditioner world. Researchers in this published May 2017 study explored whether increases in nighttime temperatures end up resulting in “insufficient sleep” for the rest of us. They even ponder how climate change may make all of us a whole lot more tired and cranky, too. In fact, based on NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections, the northern and western United States are likely to be the most affected by climate change and, as a result, may find the greatest loss of sleep due to ever-warming weather. A lack of sleep is not only affected by the weather, though; evidence also points to a loss of sleep for lower-income individuals and the aging.

The Warmer the Room, The Better Women Workers Fare

The temperature of our offices affects our productivity–surprise, surprise! This 2019 finding is especially true for women, who most often perform better on math and verbal tasks when rooms are warmer (not cooler), while men do worse in warmer offices and better in cooler environments with the same tasks. Considering workers’ comfort may not seem like a boon to the bottom line, but it likely is given that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to making the office temperature to everyone’s liking. However, if upper management see sizeable numbers of their workers sweating or wrapping themselves in sweaters and blankets, it is likely a good sign to adjust the thermostat.