On excessively hot days, there are more likely to be fatal car accidents and food safety problems
On excessively hot days, there are more likely to be fatal car accidents and food safety problems, and police officers and government food inspectors tend to do less of their duties, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists, who analyzed data from across the United States, suggest that if the climate continues to change, by 2050 — and in another 50 or so years beyond that — our world may be less safe than it is today.
“The crux of the idea — which is that weather affects how we perform our duties and how we go about our daily lives and the risks that we experience — is indeed simplistic,” said Nick Obradovich, co-author of the study and a research scientist at MIT’s Media Lab.
What is not at all simple is that he and his colleagues used a “massive amount of data” to understand how temperature affects crucial government work, and this is the “first time, to our knowledge, that’s been done.”
“Hot temperatures are basically bad for human functioning,” Obradovich said. This is the case across “a broad suite of things” that scientists have studied: Sleep quality, mood, mental health, risk of suicide and work productivity are all “harmed by hot temperatures.”