The Rising Costs of Extreme Heat on the Global Economy: A Case Study on Greece

by | Aug 1, 2023

As the climate crisis escalates, the world is witnessing a surge in extreme heatwaves that not only threaten human lives but also inflict significant damage on the global economy. Recent research has revealed that the economic cost of scorching temperatures is far higher than previously understood. This article explores the alarming findings, with a particular focus on Greece, as it grapples with the impacts of extreme heat and climate change.

According to a study co-authored by Justin Mankin, an associate professor of geography at Dartmouth College, the global economy lost an estimated $16 trillion, on average, between 1992 and 2023 due to extreme heat fueled by the climate crisis. In the context of Greece, this economic burden has been felt profoundly. As a Southern European country, Greece has experienced increasingly intense and prolonged heatwaves, leading to a wide range of challenges.

Greece’s geographical location and Mediterranean climate make it particularly vulnerable to extreme heat events. Agriculture is a vital sector in the country, contributing significantly to its economy. However, rising temperatures and prolonged heatwaves have caused reduced crop yields and lower agricultural productivity. Additionally, extreme heat impacts the tourism industry, a key driver of Greece’s economy. Tourists are increasingly wary of traveling during peak summer months when temperatures can become unbearable, resulting in reduced tourist numbers and revenues.

The adverse effects of extreme heat are also evident in the labor force. Outdoor workers, such as those in construction and agriculture, are exposed to health risks and decreased productivity during heatwaves, leading to potential labor shortages and economic setbacks.

Moreover, the strain on energy infrastructure during extreme heat can lead to power outages, further impacting businesses and the overall economy. The increased demand for cooling systems to combat rising temperatures can lead to an energy crisis and exacerbate energy costs.

The economic impact of extreme heat is not limited to Greece alone. However, its situation serves as a stark reminder of the global consequences of climate change. Richer nations, which often contribute more to greenhouse gas emissions, should take responsibility for their role in the climate crisis and support vulnerable countries like Greece in their efforts to adapt and build resilience.

The study’s findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive and collective action to combat climate change and mitigate the impacts of extreme heat on economies worldwide. Investing in renewable energy, enhancing climate resilience, and implementing sustainable practices are essential steps to secure a sustainable future for Greece and the global community.

In conclusion, extreme heat poses a severe economic threat to the world, with countries like Greece facing significant challenges due to their geographical location and economic structure. Urgent action is needed to address climate change, protect vulnerable nations, and secure a sustainable and prosperous future for all. Through international cooperation and commitment, we can mitigate the economic impacts of extreme heat and build a climate-resilient world.