The Impact of Summer Heat Waves
Weekly Round Up July 24, 2022
When we think of summer, it is beaches, surfing, and riding the bikes on the strand. Maybe that escape to the mountains for the cool fresh air at the lake or going to the river. If you were in Europe or the Northeast and mid-Atlantic last week, temperatures soared above normal levels during the hottest part of the summer resulting in heat-related deaths.
Over the last few weeks, the world has seen a remarkable increase in temperature. For my friends that say, yep, it is summer. This temperature increase is beyond the seasonal fluctuation that comes every year. This weather event has been described as "unprecedented, frightening, and apocalyptic," the ongoing heat wave in Europe has claimed more than 1,700 lives in Portugal and Spain alone.
England faced severe disruption to its transportation networks as temperatures reached the low 100-degree mark. Those of you from the southwest will find that odd. However, the issue is that the English infrastructure was not built to withstand that heat.
One of Britain's airports had to close due to a surface defect. That part of the runway was melting due to the high temperatures. Video from the Luton Airport showed crews working on sections of the tarmac.
Temporary speed restrictions were in place over many of Britain's rail networks, including London's tube system. Entire lines preemptively canceled service over fears that the extreme temperatures forecast could cause rails to buckle. And bold red warnings were posted in stations and on social media urging people to reconsider their trips.
The issue of the heat not only is a health emergency, but it also is having an impact on an already stressed economy.
Extreme Heat Impacts Growth
Research has found that extreme heat can directly hurt economic growth. For example, a 2018 study found that U.S. states' economies tend to grow slower during relatively hot summers. The data shows that annual economic growth falls 0.15 to 0.25 percentage points for every 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.56 C), and a state's average summer temperature is above normal.
Those stats should not be surprising. The wealthy have escaped the heat of New York City to the Hamptons for hundreds of years. There is an old piece of advice in finance, "Sell in May and go away." That is, sell your stocks before the summer months and buy them back in the fall (usually around Halloween). The phrase is so old that no one is sure exactly when it was first said, but it seems to have originated in 19th-century London. The thinking goes that since financial professionals will be away in large part for the summer, there will be little buying pressure for stocks during the season, so you might as well sell them ahead of time and wait till everybody gets back to work.
If you live in an agriculture center, you know how important weather is to planning and crop yield. I remember my grandfather having his farmer's almanac on the ready-for-weather predictions. He farmed near Saratoga, N.Y. His cash crops of corn and hay are very fickle to the heat and rain.
The cash crops of soybeans, cotton, and corn are impacted the most due to the increased weather.
With higher temperatures, yields fall sharply. The reductions in yields are costly for U.S. agriculture. Not only does it impact the fresh vegetables on the Kitchen table, but it is also the cost of feed and grain for meat and dairy farmers worldwide.
A prominent example of this was the collapse of the Russian wheat harvest in response to the country's 2010 heat wave, which raised wheat prices worldwide.
The Price of Energy Increases.
Last week I posted a piece on the grid and its instability. The issue with an unstable grid is whether it can withstand the additional demands of the heat? When it's hot, energy use increases as people and businesses run their air conditioners and other cooling equipment at full blast.
Derek Lemoine, an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Arizona, writes that a 2011 study found that just one extra day with temperatures above 90 F (32 C) increases annual household energy use by 0.4%. More recent research shows that energy use increases the most in places that tend to be hotter, probably because more households have air conditioning.
This increase in electricity use on hot days stresses electric grids when people depend on the most, as seen in California and Texas during past heat waves. Blackouts can be quite costly for the economy, as inventories of food and other goods can spoil, and many businesses either have to run generators or shut down. For instance, the 2019 California blackouts cost an estimated US$10 billion.
Air Conditioning the Dubble Edge Sword
Having a working air conditioner means fewer people die. The problem is that not everyone has them, and not those that do, not everyone can afford to run them if they have them. I was on a call with three people in London, England. One of the participants told me that their homes are built to keep the heat inside. In addition to the deliberate design for the cold, only about 5% of the entire nation has air conditioning compared to roughly 90 percent of U.S. homes with some form of air conditioning, according to U.S. Census data.
While heat waves induce more households to install air conditioning, higher use of air conditioning could increase residential energy consumption by 83% globally.
As air conditioning helps save lives and makes people more comfortable in the dog days of summer. It puts more demand on the grid and calls for an increase in power production that could amplify the heat waves causing the higher demand in the first place.
And in the U.S. South, where air conditioning is omnipresent, hotter-than-usual summers still take the most significant toll on states' economic growth.
In other words, as temperatures rise, economies and people will continue to suffer.
The Todd DeVoe Show:
HERricane is a national program by the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management (I-DIEM) that provides women a means to explore a career in Emergency Management (as well as associated ones) while developing leadership skills, ensuring success in whatever path they choose. Women are underrepresented in Emergency Management but make up a disproportionate amount of disaster victims, particularly regarding loss of life, sexual violence, and loss of income.
The City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department (EMD) is excited to announce that we have partnered with the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion (I-DIEM). to facilitate the first ever West coast HERricane camp. We will host this week-long camp for participants between the ages of 15-25 years old, where HERricane LA will bring together 45 young women from under-represented communities across Los Angeles City and allow them to learn from a diverse group of City leaders, including our first responders, policymakers, and emergency managers across multiple Departments and culminates in a Functional Exercise on the last day of camp.
Theory N2 Practice
Regarding leadership and emergency management, the “Theory-N2-Practice” is an examination and evaluation of learning and leadership.
This podcast will take the listener on a journey of personal and professional growth and development with reflection, evaluation, and correction.