Why I'm Scared of Air Conditioning
I know air conditioning is a weird thing to be scared of. Most of my other fears are normal: spiders, the dark, being axe-murdered, etc, but I just came across a book that makes me extremely fearful of AC. It's called Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (And Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer) by Stan Cox. According to Mr. Cox, air conditioning changed the American landscape, transformed our politics and is endangering our health. Chilled air is a drain on our environment and the evil force behind our rat-race lifestyle of "accelerated production and consumption. Are you trembling with me now?
Our Dependence on Air Conditioning
Air conditioning is an essential ingredient in most parts of the country during the summer. So much so that 9 out of 10 new homes in the United States are built with central air. Americans use as much electricity to power ACs as the entire continent of Africa uses for everything. This is one of the reasons we should abstain from it, according to Cox. He believes that the electricity used to power ACs is accelerating global warming.
The weird thing is, air conditioning generates more demand for itself, the more it is used. It adds to greenhouse emissions, which will mean even hotter summers in the future and a greater demand for it. It's like air conditioners are alive and they know how to control us. Creepy.
Do You Really Need that Much Cool Air?
The way people use air conditioning in their homes is troubling. We seem to cool spaces instead of people. For instance, in a 3,000 square foot house on a summer day, only about 3 percent of the cooling power is used to cool people. The other 97 percent is going to cool the structure of the house. People even leave their systems on when they aren't home so that they can arrive at a cool home.
You may be thinking, "what about the more efficient air conditioning systems we have today?" Cox is quick to point out that the AC equipment today is about 28 percent more efficient than it was 15 years ago, but the average air-conditioned house is much bigger and uses 37 percent more energy to cool it. Therefore any gains energy efficient systems might have given us are lost.
Air Conditioning Shaped American Politics As We Know Them?
Cox also believes that air conditioning has been a major boon to the Republican Party. The invention of refrigerated cooling begat the Southern and Western population explosion, transforming our electoral map in the last half century. 70 percent of all economic growth since 1960 happened in the South. Also, many electoral votes shifted to predominantly red states in the South and West. It brought about the rise of the Republicans? I'm ready to go home and take a jack hammer to my system right now.
Is Air Conditioning Damaging Our Health?
There are also very personal ramifications to being dependent on air conditioning. People stay inside longer, exercise less and get sick more often. It's a suspected factor in weight gain because we tend to eat more when we're in cool conditions. Science has proven that our biological tolerance for heat is eroded if we spend almost all of our time in climate-controlled spaces.
I'll Stop the World and Melt with You?
Given all these facts, are you ready to give up air conditioning? Although I've been scared out of my wits by all these facts I'm not sure I can give it up. I guess I'm just hopelessly addicted to the evil force behind our rat-race lifestyle of "accelerated production and consumption". If loving air conditioning is wrong, I'm not sure I want to be right.