Population and environment


Extreme temperatures and morbidity in old age in Europe


Francesca Zanasi


Understanding the relationship between extreme temperatures and health among older adults is of paramount importance for public health in ageing societies. This study aims to enhance our understanding of the impact of extreme temperatures on morbidity, i.e. the risk of being hospitalised, using medications for heart conditions, and experiencing the onset of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) among older adults in Europe (65+ years old) using five waves from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE, 2004–2015). It also explores heterogeneity in this impact depending on an array of factors that affect exposure and vulnerability to climate, including geographical location, gender, age, educational level, having a partner/child and living in an urban or a rural area. Results from individual fixed-effects models show that extremely cold temperatures increase the risk of being hospitalised and suffering from CVDs, while heat exposure has no noteworthy effect. Broken down by geographical location, the results indicate that one additional extremely cold day influences the risk of hospitalisation in the coldest and the warmest European regions, while extreme heat influences this risk in the warmest European regions. Finally, the oldest old and low educated individuals appear to be the most vulnerable social groups. The study concludes by discussing the advantages and the limitations of using survey data to study climate and health, and the strategies suggested by the relevant literature to prevent temperature-related illness.

Population and Climate Change: Decent Living for All without Compromising Climate Mitigation


Raya Muttarak

In recent years, the idea of having fewer children or not having children at all has been put forward by some climate activists as way to tackle climate change. A few scientific studies have demonstrated some evidence that younger generations view climate change as a reason for intending not to have children.1,2 This phenomenon may point to the Malthusian theory of the negative relationship between population and environment, whereby population growth is seen to cause environmental deterioration due to higher demand for food, water, land and other materials. With respect to climate change, the expansion from a world of 2 billion people in 1927 to the present world of 8 billion naturally means increased demand for energy, which is still mainly based on fossil fuels. Consequentially, as the global population grows, carbon emissions also increase.