Climate change deniers need to wake up and feel the heat, because global warming is affecting something very important: wine.
According to new analysis, increased summer temperatures in the Mediterranean are slowing the production of wine, threatening (delicious) supplies from hotter countries.
It’s all because workers are struggling to maintain productivity levels under the sun.
“Given the increase in environmental temperature during the past five millennia in regions such as the Mediterranean, the workers who currently pick the grapes carry out their jobs under adverse environmental conditions,” the study reads.
“In Cyprus, for instance, the mean maximum temperature in August (the main part of the harvest season) is around 36°C. These working conditions would be considered a heat-wave in central European countries such as Germany.”
The researchers analysed the productivity levels of manual grape-picking workers in Cyprus to study the impact of heat on labour output.
They followed the workers at different times of the year to see if temperature made a difference.
During the summer when temperatures often reached 36°C, a significant labor loss of up to 27% was recorded.
The researchers put this down to increased perceived exertion on worker’s metabolic and cardiovascular systems, resulting in reduced output.
During hotter months, there was also a 15% decrease in the amount of time workers were able to carry out their duties due to the increased need for irregular and unplanned work breaks.
With the wine industry comprising of 0.2% of world GDP, increased temperatures from global warming may negatively impact the industry and even potentially result in large losses worldwide, they said.
For this study, the authors specifically chose to study grape-picking workers, as the production of wine is still largely dominated by manual labor unlike other industries and therefore the effects of global warming on workers in this industry is highly likely to more prevalent.
The authors warned that this research should not be considered an exhaustive large scale study of the impact of global warming on agriculture workers, and broader studies involving more workers and different locations should be undertaken in order to full assess the full impact.
The research is published in full in the journal Temperature.