Stephen Buranyi for The Guardian:
This summer, the publication of a New York Times article asking “Do Americans need air conditioning?” touched off a thousand furious social media posts, uniting figures from the feminist writer and critic Roxane Gay (“You wouldn’t last a summer week in Florida without it. Get a grip”) to the conservative professor and pundit Tom Nichols (“Air conditioning is why we left the caves … You will get my AC from me when you pry it from my frozen, frosty hands”).
If anything unites the right and the left, it’s a desire to avoid the inconveniences of avoiding climate change.
To be fair, individual action in response to climate change can only do so much (read: almost nothing). Industry is the problem.
Still, air conditioning has a lot to answer for (and that’s only going to get worse):
The US already uses as much electricity for air conditioning each year as the UK uses in total. The IEA projects that as the rest of the world reaches similar levels, air conditioning will use about 13% of all electricity worldwide, and produce 2bn tonnes of CO2 a year – about the same amount as India, the world’s third-largest emitter, produces today.
I take AC for granted. And I could stand to use it less than I do.
Buranyi’s article reinforces that, touching on the cultural reasons behind AC’s rapid adoption, how power companies promoted it as a way of making more money, how it’s prevalence has collapsed building quality, and some research about how people don’t really need to be all that cool all the time.