The troubled history of air-conditioning suggests not that we chuck it entirely but that we focus on public cooling, on public comfort, rather than individual cooling, on individual comfort.
How far will the Climate Change fascists go? All the way. If you let them, they will reduce you to living a box made by a 3-D modeler, wearing only recycled clothing, eating ‘meat’ grown in a laboratory, with no individuals owning personal transportation.
Not only that, your 3-D box will not be allowed to have air conditioning. That’s the dystopian future that Time Magazine envisions for you and your loved ones. To paraphrase Charlton Heston, you’ll have to come pry it out of my “cold, dead hands.” Ice cold, that is.
From Time Magazine: Comfort cooling began not as a survival strategy but as a business venture. It still carries all those symbolic meanings, though its currency now works globally, cleaving the world into civilized cooling and barbaric heat. Despite what we assume, as a means of weathering a heat wave, individual air-conditioning is terribly ineffective.
It works only for those who can afford it. But even then, their use in urban areas only makes the surrounding micro-climate hotter, sometimes by a factor of 10ºF, actively threatening the lives of those who don’t have access to cooling.
(The sociologist Eric Klinenberg has brilliantly studied how, in a 1995 Chicago heat wave, about twice as many people died than in a comparable heat wave forty years earlier due to the city’s neglect of certain neighborhoods and social infrastructure.)
Ironically, research suggests that exposure to constant air-conditioning can prevent our bodies from acclimatizing to hot weather, so those who subject themselves to “thermal monotony” are, in the end, making themselves more vulnerable to heat-related illness. The troubled history of air-conditioning suggests not that we chuck it entirely but that we focus on public cooling, on public comfort, rather than individual cooling, on individual comfort.
Ensuring that the most vulnerable among the planet’s human inhabitants can keep cool through better access to public cooling centers, shade-giving trees, safe green spaces, water infrastructure to cool, and smart design will not only enrich our cities overall, it will lower the temperature for everyone. It’s far more efficient this way.
To do so, we’ll have to re-orient ourselves to the meaning of air-conditioning. And to comfort. Privatized air-conditioning survived the ozone crisis, but its power to separate — by class, by race, by nation, by ability — has survived, too. Comfort for some comes at the expense of the life on this planet.
It’s time we become more comfortable with discomfort. Our survival may depend on it. (Source)