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Workers Make the Weather

A lot of tired, disgruntled Americans have decided that we work too much, especially compared to Europeans. Now NOAA says our 5-day workweek creates climate conditions that give us lousy weather almost every weekend?the only time we can enjoy ourselves.

Amanda Onion writes in abcnews.com that after examining more than 40 years of temperature data from 10,000 weather stations, NOAA found that temperature differences between day and night appear to follow a five-days-on, two-days-off workweek pattern. They tried to find out what natural influences might be causing this, such as the lunar cycle, but the only reason they could find was pollution caused by the Monday through Friday workweek.

"There is nothing in nature that should cause these data to be different," says meteorologist Piers M de F. Forster. "So whatever the cause we find has to be something that we're changing, ourselves."

Meteorologists think the differences in average temperatures on the weekends, compared to weekdays, are caused by pollution, such as car exhaust from people?s long commute, and pollution from factories. All of this causes particles to be thrown up into the air, which increase cloud formation.

In the East, most of this pollution is made up of lighter particles, from sources like natural gas combustion. They increase cloud cover, which produces a greenhouse effect with warmer weekdays, especially in Northeastern cities.

Larger soot particles, from coal-fired plants, have the opposite effect of reducing cloud cover, because larger particles absorb more radiation, allowing the clouds to burn off. Most of these plants are in the Midwest, which experiences cooler weekday temperatures.

Both these effects are evidence that global warming may be partly caused by pollution. "It's hard to prove that humans may have caused an increase in temperature over 100 years," says Forster. "But we showed humans can cause a change in temperature over seven days. It illustrates that people are definitely having an effect on climate. And it does that unequivocally."

Europeans may have shorter workweeks and longer vacations, but they had a lousy summer. Shaoni Bhattacharya writes in New Scientist that at least 35,000 people died as a result of the record heatwave. The Earth Policy Institute (EPI) says, "Since reports are not yet available for all European countries, the total heat death toll for the continent is likely to be substantially larger." They think such deaths are likely to increase, as "even more extreme weather events lie ahead."

France suffered the most, with 14,802 people dead. This is "more than 19 times the death toll from the SARS epidemic worldwide," the EPI says. 7,000 died in Germany, and 4,200 died in both Spain and Italy. Over 2,000 people died in the U.K., which recorded its first ever temperature over 100

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