1) Research Purpose
The survey aims to understand whether elderly of 60 or above who are living in public housing can feel the rising temperature in Hong Kong, and how the heat will affect their health. This study also looks into what are the best ways to cool down as perceived by them.
3) Background of interviewees
3.1) Gender, age and family background
Among the 436 respondents, 75% are female and 25% are male, between the age of 60 and 90 with an average at 67. 73% are living with family whereas 27% live alone.
3.2) Economic Status:
Average household income per month of the respondents is $2899. Over half (54%) of the households do not have income or rely on social security (such as comprehensive social security assistance or old age allowance); while 21% of the household have an income of $4000 or below. The financial situation of the respondents is unsatisfactory and they mostly belong to the poor and underprivileged group.
4.1) Most elders believe that the weather is getting hotter:
92.6% of respondents believe that it is getting hotter in recent years, hence proving that they can feel the impact of global warming.
4.2) Elders believe that the best way to cool down is by natural means:
46% of respondents believe that the best way to cool down is to open the windows to improve ventilation; 41% choose to use a fan, only 6% prefer using air-conditioning.
Besides, when the weather gets hot, over half (27% each) of the respondents choose to stay at home or a park to cool down; only 23% choose to go to shopping malls with air-conditioning. Over 80% believe that it is not good to use air-conditioning, mainly because electricity is expensive (47%), the body cannot get use to air-conditioning (39%) and unfriendly to the environment (14%). The above results show that most elderly thinks the best way to cool down is by natural means, and they are quite reluctant to use air-conditioning.
4.3) Impact of hot weather on elders’ health﹕
Close to 40% (38%) of respondents said that they had felt sick because of heat, with symptoms including:
Dizziness and shortness of breath
Poor sleeping quality
Increased heart beats and chest tightness
Weakness of limbs
Besides, 28% of respondents need to take medication regularly due to chronic diseases; of which 62% had exacerbation because of the hot weather, showing that the rising temperature is affecting their health and life.
NWSC and Greenpeace believe that the survey results demonstrate that climate change is a threat to the health of elderly. And elders do not like to use air-conditioning even they can afford that. On the contrary, they prefer to cool down by natural means. The Hong Kong Observatory predicts that global warming will further pushes up the average temperature in Hong Kong by 3.5 degree Celsius in 90 years, showing that the warming effect is getting more serious in Hong Kong. Hence, NWSC and Greenpeace suggest the following:
l The Government should formulate comprehensive policy to tackle the problem of climate change, including improving ventilation of public housing, hence improving the citizens’ living environment. The government should also add a gate to public housing to facilitate ventilation, which in turn lowers the room temperature. It should also increase the green belt in the public housing estate, so that residents could naturally get away from the heat and reduce reliance on air-conditioning, which is expensive and unfriendly to the environment.”
l Carbon dioxide released from burning coal and oil is the culprit of global warming, while power plants are the greatest source of carbon dioxide emission in Hong Kong, responsible for 70% of emission. In the long run, the government should restrict the emission of greenhouse gas through the new Scheme of Control and to make an effort to prevent global warming.
Statistics in Graphs