Climate Change is dramatically impacting the world in various waves, whether it’s glacier melting, extreme weather changes, or simply a higher temperature than normal.
The studies now are pointing out the effect can be on a social and psychological level as well.
Ever felt more angry, irritated, and lazy on a day the sun is too warm, and the sweats are more frequent? You are not alone. Studies reveal that physiologically, people’s bodies aren’t built to handle heat and humidity beyond 35° Celsius, or about 95° Fahrenheit (SN: 5/8/20).
Evidence also suggests that heat makes people more aggressive, lower cognitive ability, and less productive. And with the increasing temperature, this seems to be an uprising problem as well.
The destructive impact on developing countries :
Developing countries are said to be the first ones to be impacted by climate change. Low-income households and countries have limited resources to keep the environment cool, thus they suffer more.
An example would be the factory workers in India, research shows that tailors in Mumbai get less productive on the hotter days, as they work all day without any air conditioning or cooling facility.
“The physiological effects of heat may be universal, but the way it manifests is highly unequal,” states economist R. Jisung Park of UCLA.
The relationship between higher temperature and aggression:
Craig Anderson, a social psychologist experimented a few decades ago regarding high temperature and behavior. He along with his colleagues showed a sample of undergraduate students of a couple talking. One clip contained dialogues in a neutral tone, and the rest three showed the tension between them.
The participants watched the clips in different temperatures, ranging from cool to hot. The result showed that students sitting in extreme hot or cold temperatures listed the couple as hostile, and the rest listed them as neutral.
Anderson explains that heat can make people more agitated, thus their perception is also influenced by irritation and hostility.
A rise in crime and violence ?
Since researchers found out the connection between heat and aggression, their focus diverted to crime to investigate results that can verify this claim.
The latest study analyzing crime data in Los Angeles from 2010 to 2017 reveals that violent crime increases when temperatures pass 65° to 70° Fahrenheit.
Other than this, the National Bureau of Economic Research released a study that centered on inmates in Mississippi prisons and jails that lack air conditioning.
The results showed a staunch difference between inmates’ behavior performance during hotter days and cool ones. Every facility averaged about 65 violent acts per year. The results attested that on days above around 27° C, the likelihood of violence among inmates increased 18 percent.
The impact of heat on productivity :
There is also evidence that there is a connection between rising heat to lower productivity levels. In a study based on students giving exams in New York, Park, the UCLA economist tried to find out how the heat affected their performance.
The large sample consisted of 1 million students and around 4.5 million exams from 1999 to 2011. The analysis discovered that students giving exams at a temperature of 32° C day are 10 percent less inclined to pass a given subject compared to a 24° C day.
Other than this, their research also gathered data from around the country, including the number of children with the privilege of air conditioning.
The results showed that students without air conditioning access scored much less on a hot day, opposed to students with cooling facilities. This research extends to factory workers, and studies on the difference in socio-economic incomes.
In conclusion, access to air conditioning can also impact the productivity level and aggression as it is a source of relief from the heat. Thus, this behaviour is also impacted negatively towards people from lower socio-economic backgrounds, rather than developed countries and higher-income households.