Climate Ready Clyde
Risk and Opportunity
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Society and Human Health

Society and Human Health

Summary

Our health and society are the very foundation of our way of life in Glasgow City Region. They frame people’s life experiences both positively and negatively. These experiences are not uniform - our diverse communities have different priorities, challenges and areas of need for action. 

We have communities of geography, but also identity. The socio-economic factors which make up our communities also influence who is able to participate, and who benefits from action. Increasingly, we are finding new ways for communities to be involved in the development of the places people live, work and play. 

Like the communities that rely them, our health services are used and accessed differently depending factors like age, cultural background and socio-economic factors.  Health services are already under strain as the population is aging and growing. Climate change puts additional pressure on an already strained service. It is therefore critical to work with communities to understand their health needs and find ways to ensure that health services are fair, equitable, cost effective and resilient to current and future climate change.

Key climate related risks and opportunities 

Climate change will affect the health of those living in the city region by: 

  • Impacting directly on physical and mental health and wellbeing as a result of flooding, increased summer temperatures and heatwaves. Flooding can result in emotional and psychological impacts that are more severe and longer lasting than physical damage to property and physical health. Heatwaves can result in premature death and illnesses, particularly affecting older and younger people, and exacerbate existing illnesses such as cardio-vascular and respiratory diseases. Climate change can also increase the risk of transmission of diseases from invasion of new pests and pathogens, for example Lyme disease invasive mosquito species. In contrast, warmer summers may result in greater use of parks and greenspace and improved health and wellbeing.

  • Worsening impacts of existing air pollution as a result of climate-related factors, posing a risk to vulnerable groups like the elderly, children and those with chronic respiratory conditions or pre-existing medical conditions.

  • Increasing health inequalities with those who are socially disadvantaged being more likely to bear a greater burden in relation to health impacts and be at risk of their health benefiting least from climate change action.

  • Reducing the performance of health and social care services, including NHS estate and care homes by impacting on the ability to function and serve populations during extreme weather. This includes disruptions to many of the infrastructure services the health sector depends upon, such as IT and communications, water, energy, waste and transport, Heat waves can cause buildings to overheat, whilst high winds and rain can damage buildings.

  • Changing the demand on NHS services and social services, including increasing demand due to extreme weather and gradual changes as a result of health impacts including chronic and acute physical and mental health conditions.

  • Reducing fuel poverty overall due to decreased heating needs during the winter months, reducing mortality and morbidity of the population and fuel poverty.

 
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Use our interactive index to navigate to relevant information based on particular climate hazards, risks, sectors, and actions.

 

Next steps to creating a climate resilient society 

  • Raise awareness of flood disadvantage and building understanding of how to implement processes which address it.

  • Reduce the impacts of poor air quality on the population’s health to reduce the additional risk created by climate change.

  • Build awareness and preparedness for an increase in summer temperatures and heatwaves in the city region.

  • Develop a more detailed assessment of the urban heat island effect across the city region, including the role of different building types, and the effects of low carbon retrofit in reducing or increasing risk.

  • Protect NHS estates and social care against flooding and overheating. This includes assessing the risk of overheating across the estate, and developing plans to reduce risks of flooding to NHS buildings where these are already understood.

  • Help communities and organisations work together to understand impacts of climate on health and wellbeing and to become more resilient in the face of climate change, including through community planning partnerships.

  • Review how the various Glasgow City Region plans and strategies that relate to society and health, as well as national plans applied locally address future climate risk.