‘Should Air-Conditioning Go Global, or Be Rationed Away?’
That is the question posed over at the New York Times’ ‘Room for Debate’ page and where six debaters offered their opinions on the matter. The first post, “A Luxury the World Can’t Afford,” comes from Mr. Stan Cox. I singled him out because of what he wrote in the last paragraph of his article:
A global greenhouse ration would push us into distinguishing between absolute necessities like food or water and manufactured necessities like a houseful of refrigerated air.
Sir, where I come from, air conditioning IS an absolute necessity. I have lived nearly 30 years in not just a warm climate, but a suffocating, fry your noggin climate. To wit: Texas and Oklahoma. It’s a unique level of hot. A bake cookies in your back seat kind of hot. As hot as it gets in AZ and in some parts of CA, by nightfall, a light sweater would be required, but in Texas, it’s still in the upper 90s. The seasonal Heat Beast looms so large in the Texas/Oklahoma mind that Texans and Okies have their own unofficial rules to survive it. A partial list:
(15) Shade trumps Distance- That skinny Gumball tree the farthest from the store’s entrance? Prime real estate. It’ll usually have four or five cars clustered around it trying to grab one branch worth of shade and that friends, can mean the difference between feeling like a casserole or a cheesecake.
(16) Black car interiors- Will result in people politely asking if you’re “touched in the head,” or a foreigner, and by that they mean Californian.
(17) Road trips-Not only should you map out the distance and identify well lit rest stops, you should know where each Dairy Queen along the route is located so as to keep cool and refreshed with Blizzards®. Oreo is the best.
(18) Seat belts-like rattlesnakes in the brush, avoid surprising one, as they deliver a stinging rebuke to your bad choice of short shorts. Unless you want “Ford” branded across your thigh, look before you sit.
(19) Running-don’t do it
(20) Running 2.0-if you must, then do it before 8am and after 9pm. Oh, it’s still hot, but the odds of you suffering a heat stroke are lower than if you’re foolish enough to do it at 11:30am. All I can say to those folks is See: Darwin, Charles.
The list is longer and has regional variances, but the point is there’s a certain strategy required to battle this Heat Beast. Which is why I find it ludicrious to have someone suggest we cease using our biggest weapon in this never ending war. Mr. Cox implores us to break our dependence on A/C since the “resulting greenhouse emissions create the need for even more air-conditioning.” Such a vicious circle. A vicious, climate controlled circle. His angst is that such high use of A/C contributes to America’s massive carbon footprint on the globe. You see, A/C usage worldwide is about to exponentially grow, especially in tropical nations, and Mr. Cox accurately identifies the hypocrisy of an American sitting in a comfortable, 68 degree office building telling a resident of some jungle choked equatorial nation that they can keep trucking along without A/C. After all, they’ve been without A/C this long, what are they missing, amiright? High five, y’all. So, why not lead by example, America, and ditch the A/C for open windows, hand fans and 5 months of sweating through your bedtime.
We did that already. I don’t know what it is about some people wanting to relive the “glory days” of pre-industrialization, but I do not. I rather enjoy living in an era of automated transportation and mechanical cooling units. Indoor plumbing is pretty great, too. Definitely one of those things you miss when it’s unavailable. What can I say? I prefer cars over horses, cold beer over warm beer, and apple scented wash rooms over outhouses, and I don’t begrudge the peoples of tropical nations for wanting those same things. It stinks living in hot, muggy climates, but we all can’t crowd into San Diego or Palm Springs. If a little A/C unit makes Guyana a bit more bearable for folks to sleep at night then by God, let those folks install one. If someone can come up with a more efficient A/C unit, then patent that sucker and let’s get them on the market. That’s a far better solution than holding a mass A/C unit burning party.
So, should “A/C go global or be rationed away?” GLOBAL, I say! I like living in Texas, and A/C makes it possible to do so 5 months out of the year. It makes a lot of places more tolerable. Climate-wise at least. (Africa as a whole still has a massive bug problem. Bit of a dictator infestation as well.) The best way I can describe to folks the weather in Houston during the triple digit days of August, is to imagine taking a hot shower with the bathroom door closed. Give it 10 minutes. Let the mirror fog up and the steam kiss the ceiling tiles. With door still closed, step out, towel off, then proceed to put on a pair of jeans and a long sleeved shirt. That’s awful, you say? That’s Houston in the summertime, and every Texan should give thanks to Mr. Willis Haviland Carrier for making it possible survive it. I think folks from Paraguay to Indonesia should have a chance to praise his name as well.