Climate and environmental change in Lapland and its role for the health of the elderly and remote communities – A narrative review

The aim of this project is to address how the life of elderly in Northern Scandinavia is affected by environmental and climatic changes in the context of social changes. It is part of the NCM funded project “Arctic Change and Elderly Exclusion”, headed by the University of Lapland, Finland.

Key people – Dr Barbara Schumann from Umeå University.
Project summary - During the last 100 years, societies and communities in Northern Scandinavia went through considerable social, cultural and economic transitions. Most of the Sami people live now in permanent settlements, although reindeer herding is still the main income recourse for some of them. At the same time, anthropogenic climate change is leaving its mark on human life. Changes in climate are associated with environmental changes, such as erosion, thawing of permafrost and replacement of tundra vegetation by boreal forest. Such fast and drastic changes will also affect human life and health. Community water resources are under threat due to contamination from infectious agents, toxic substances and saltwater. Unpredictable weather can lead to frost bites and injuries, for example because of unreliable sea and river ice, and storms. Also, indirect negative health effects of flooding and increased temperatures might facilitate the spread and increased incidences of infectious diseases. Both beneficial and negative aspects of climate change are assumed to especially affect vulnerable populations – the elderly and those living in remote communities. This narrative review collects scientific articles and documents and will summarize their findings regarding effects of climatic and environmental changes on human health in Northern Scandinavia, with a focus on the elderly and remote communities.
Status - Ongoing

Umeå universitet