Global climate change is progressing and health impacts have been observed in a number of countries, including Australia. The main health impacts will be due to direct heat exposure, extreme weather, air pollution, reduced local food production, food- and vectorborne infectious diseases and mental stress. The issue is one of major public health importance. Adaptation to reduce the effects of climate change involves many different sectors to minimise negative health outcomes. Wide-scale mitigation is also required, in order to reduce the effects of climate change.
The evidence on negative consequences from climate change on human health and well-being is growing (1–5). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) described climate change as a threat to the climate system that sets the basis for life and human health conditions (6). The changing climate is expected to affect basic requirements needed to support and sustain human health such as good food, clean water, and unpolluted air, with negative effects that are expected to be unequally distributed.
Background : Australia has a hot climate with maximum summer temperatures in its major cities frequently exceeding 35°C. Although ‘heat waves’ are an annual occurrence, the associated heat-related deaths among vulnerable groups, such as older people, suggest that Australians could be better prepared to deal with extreme heat. Objective : To understand ways in which a vulnerable sub-population adapt their personal behaviour to cope with heat within the context of Australians’ relationship with heat.