• Open Access

Support for vulnerable people during heat waves: a response to Stuart et al.


Correspondence to: Dr Peter Tait, EH SIG Convenor, PHAA, PO Box 3903, Alice Springs, NT 0871; e-mail: aspetert@bigpond.com

Stuart et al.'s important and timely call for supporting people vulnerable to heat stress, notes “Alarmingly, 25% of participants did not have an air-conditioner in their home during the last heat wave.”1 This quote introduces an example of a non-systemic response to a ‘wicked’ problem. The implication is that more air-conditioning is required. However, simply introducing more air-conditioning ignores a series of other consequences: what emission intensity is the source of the energy to run them; what stress will the peak in demand for electricity place on the grid and other users; and how much extra air-conditioning will be required in a society with increasing numbers of aged people living with chronic conditions?

I would echo Mooney's call for agencies, such as the Red Cross,2 to include preventive campaigning on such critical, global emergent health issues as global warming in their activity.