Can You Live Without Air Conditioning?

Billions live without air conditioning. Can you? This is the question posed by a terrific story in the Boston Globe. Here is an excerpt:

All that magic chilling comes at a cost—something most people are aware of on a personal level, because their electricity bills are so high during the summer, but not so much on a global scale, which is really where the problem lies. In China and India, air conditioning sales have reportedly been growing by 20 percent per year; around the world, air conditioning energy demand is projected to increase vastly over the next decades. According to Stan Cox, author of the 2010 book “Losing Our Cool,” air conditioning in the United States already has a global-warming impact equivalent to every US household driving an extra 10,000 miles per year.

But although there are a handful of anti-A/C crusaders out there, the idea that we need to be using less of it hasn’t become a touchstone of environmental enlightenment, like recycling or hybrid cars. This may well be an indication of how deeply it has shaped our world: While we can imagine giving up plastic bags and Styrofoam, living without climate control seems unfathomable, especially during a heat wave.

The article, by  Leon Neyfakh, has great common sense ideas. Here’s one of the best, from Richard de Dear, head of architectural design science at the University of Sydney in Australia:

We are probably overcooling our office buildings by 4 to 6 [degrees] F just so that office workers, particularly the males, can wear their business suits. The current clothing behaviour is costing us a fortune in energy and greenhouse emissions!

Shorts and tee-shirts from June to September, I say. For more, follow this link to the article.