At the time of this writing, it is late September and it is still above 90 degrees in many places. According to the movie Predator, the predators only come to Earth to hunt in especially hot years, which if true is still only about the 12th-worst thing the summer heat brings with it. Studies show that deadly heat waves are on the rise and getting worse, and this has all sorts of weird effects on your body that you probably didn’t even know about.
You Become Violently Aggressive
Ever notice how on a particularly bad summer’s day, or at the height of a heat wave, a lot of people transform from average mild-mannered citizens into shrieking banshees? There’s an abundance of data that shows that when the temperature rises, the world goes to hell, psychologically speaking. Nothing good comes from it except that people tend to wear less clothing (but even that gets canceled out in the long run, because at least one study suggests you become less attracted to people’s bodies the more you see of them).
In London, where they’ve experienced some record summer heat waves, data shows that there are 14 percent more violent crimes on average when the temperature gets above 70 degrees. Another study in Cleveland showed that heat waves bring a sharp rise in instances of domestic violence and non-aggravated assault, which is when you beat someone with your hands rather than a weapon.
Also, when it’s hot, people are less prone to good behaviors. One study found that employees are 50 percent less likely to volunteer to help customers or offer suggestions when the temperature rises. It’s every man for himself in the heat, and if that means punching someone out for an ice cream cone, well, that starts sounding more and more reasonable the hotter it gets.
Suicide rates also increase. One study in the UK found that every degree above 65 Fahrenheit causes the suicide rate to rise by 4 percent, with violent suicide rates going up 5 percent. This was a study of 50,000 suicides between 1993 and 2003, so it’s a pretty thorough sampling of god-awful data. This essentially means that during a heat wave, there’s no one you can really trust, including yourself.
Sleeping In Heat Causes Weird Nightmares
Is it weird if you dream about taking Nicki Minaj to a water slide on a date, only when you get to the bottom of the slide you get eaten by an octopus? Nightmares are a concern if you plan on baking in the heat because your brain is all “OH GOD WHY??” and then it makes you look at ridiculous images as a punishment.
OK, that’s not exactly how scientists describe the phenomenon. The reason most people sleep better in a cool room is that your body lowers its temperature at night. It’s part of how the sleep cycle works, and also why people think they can achieve immortality by freezing their bodies. If it’s hot in your room, you won’t sleep as well, even if you’re not aware of it. According to doctors from the British Sleep Society, poor sleep means jacking up your REM activity, which means extra intense dreams and nightmares, and a greater likelihood you’ll remember them.
Messed-up sleeping patterns are one of the less reported effects of climate change, but not a minor one, since a lack of quality sleep can kill you in a bunch of ways. You want your bedroom to be about 64 degrees. Any warmer than that – even if you’ve got a fan blowing on you – and bam, you’re spending a fitful night dreaming of Chuck E. Cheese’s animatronic band trying to run a train on you in a poorly lit boulangerie.
It Alters Your Brain’s Ability To Retain Information
This is one of those scientific facts that may answer many, many questions from your own life. What made you strip naked and urinate on a police car during Spring Break that time? It was the heat making your brain malfunction. Yes, that’s what it was.
A massive study that included data from ten million American students over a 13-year period found that exposure to heat caused a significant effect on test scores. That effect was awful. According to the research, for every 1 degree Fahrenheit in average temperature, there was a 1 percent fall in learning. The same students simply retained less information in hotter years. Anything above 70 degrees Fahrenheit or so started showing an impact, and above 90 degrees, it accelerates until you reach a point where presumably the exam papers just catch on fire.
It’s not entirely surprising that heat ruins your brain, since it does the same thing to all the rest of you as well. You need more energy just to stay cool in the heat, and since your cognitive function is inhibited as well, the hotter it gets, the harder it is for your brain to match the achievement of your air-conditioned peers. Wait, aren’t the wealthier school districts the ones that have AC in the summer? Yeah, crazy how it always works out that way.
It Destroys Sperm, And May Be Lowering Fertility Overall
You’ve probably heard that guys shouldn’t spend too much time stewing in a hot tub because the water will boil their nuggets like Easter eggs, but the balmy heat of a bacteria tub isn’t the only cause for alarm, as the riveting study “Scrotal heat stress effects on sperm viability” makes clear. Sudden high heat on the ol’ goody bag will screw things up badly in the trousers department. In the study, mice were subject to 107-degree heat in the sack for 30 minutes. It resulted in damage to their sperm’s DNA.
Now you may be thinking “That’s just mice,” and you’d be scientific for thinking so, because how does that affect human sperm? Well hold onto your butts, because someone conducted the same experiment on humans in China. The result was a decreased number of sperm, as well as decreased concentration and motility. There was also increased DNA fragmentation. Remember, the testicles hang outside the body so the sperm can be kept cool, so it makes sense that this would be a problem.
This actually turns out to be just one part of a multi-pronged approach nature is taking toward trying to make us extinct. As this CNN article points out, people statistically have less sex in extreme heat (probably due to being clammy and uncomfortable), and on top of that, “studies suggest high temperatures can also hurt reproductive health, by impairing sperm function, reducing testosterone levels and interfering with menstruation.” Again, natural selection is now biased toward those who have central air. Also …
It Will Make You Poor For Life
In a study that’ll make you curse and drink a few beers, researchers dug into temperature data from 1969 to 1977. They looked for heat waves in that period of time during which temperatures rose above about 90 F. Then they compared earnings records from people who had been children during those heat waves, and discovered that children who had endured excessive periods of heat would grow up to make, on average, less than those who didn’t. Really? Really.
The way this ruins your earnings potential is even worse than you think, because it comes from way, waaaay back. From age 0 to 1, every single day you experienced those higher temperatures decreased your earning ability by 0.1 percent. You weren’t even old enough to tell mom and dad to toss you into a cool wet sack in the basement. You were screwed right out of the gate.
The study also showed that just being in the area of a heat wave wouldn’t destroy your finances. If you were an air-conditioned baby, you grew up to have yachts and solid gold belt buckles, probably, because your earning potential wasn’t affected. It’s just those who had to sweat it out. So now you want to sue the sun.
At this point you’re probably wondering why this happens. Why the hell does being a sweaty baby mean you have to eat Squeezy Cheeze as an adult instead of delicious and refined Cheez Whiz like those Hollywood elitists we hear so much about? No clue. Researchers didn’t have an answer for that beyond speculation, or maybe an accumulation of all of the stuff on this list. Regardless, it’s likely to get worse. Well, for some of us, anyway.