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Geographies of Health and Climate Change, Progress in Human Geography 35: 654-666

Author(s): Curtis SE, Oven KJ


Climate change presents significant challenges for human health and well-being and geography is contributing a growing field of knowledge relating to these processes. We outline here key dimensions of the debate, pointing to areas where human geographers can make a particularly strong contribution. These include: issues of adaptation and resilience; sustainability; environmental justice and socially unequal impacts of climate change; and psychological as well as physical impacts of environment on health. Key themes in the emerging research agenda include the significance of affect and emotion for the perception and communication of hazard and risk associated with the health impacts of climate change. Also, understanding exposure to health risks of climate change requires knowledge of complex and individually variable daily action spaces and residential mobility over the lifecourse. We argue for research that considers complex processes operating at various geographical scales, linking arguments about ‘global health’ with the more local and individual processes that contribute to health determinants. Much of the literature on health impacts of climate change demonstrates socially and geographically unequal effects, which often exacerbate existing health disparities. This highlights the links between this field of health geography and other geographical research concerned with sustainability and environmental justice.

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