It’s Getting Hot In Here…

Here’s an interesting interview over at Salon with Stan Cox, author of the new book “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer).” It sounds like an engaging read and I think the basic premise of the argument is correct. Having grown up in an environment that was consistently sweltering in the summer months, I understand the knee-jerk reaction when anyone suggests that you go without A/C. On the other hand, it was always a pain in the ass to wake up with burning sinuses and nosebleeds from the artificially dry and cold air flow. In a nutshell, the author reasonably suggests rethinking our relationship to air conditioning by examining its history.

The comments are also worth perusing. Nutjobs claiming that climate change is a leftist conspiracy notwithstanding, a lively discussion illuminates the pros and cons of Cox’s thesis. Though it’s easy to draw the wrong conclusions from the interview, I believe it has more to do with finding ways to ameliorate our desire for comfort rather than returning to some pre-historic, rugged existence. Plenty of reader suggestions are worth further examination, from termite-mound-inspired buildings to CSP. Conversely, a lot of the arguments in favor of A/C seem to boil down to petulant whining. Yes, summers are hot, just as winters are cold. But it really seems odd for a transplanted white person living in the middle of the desert, trying to maintain a green grass lawn year-round and using a car to travel ten feet to the store, all the while importing the water for this lifestyle thousands of miles, to complain about their air conditioning usage. Perhaps ask the native peoples who lived there for centuries before both you and A/C did it?

The bottom line is that A/C is just a small part of the instant-gratification/damn-the-consequences culture that is slowly killing the West. We are so addicted to our bloated, unsustainable lifestyles that it has become impossible for us to imagine another way to live. What is really surprising is the outright selfishness this reasoning engenders. One commenter actually states that if a few turtles have to die so he/she can remain cool for a few months, so be it. What’s really funny is that the thought of ingenuity and creativity finding a way to improve the technology or find alternatives doesn’t even play into this equation. It’s either keep up the wasteful habits or die to these folks. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be so cut and dried. It’s pretty sad that a new generation of innovation and design could fall prey to an aversion to 90° days. If we spent half the time improving our way of life in sustainable, profitable ways as we do bitching and moaning about its perceived loss, imagine what we might accomplish.


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