June 29, 2021

Air-Conditioning: Feeling a little Warm does not justify Destroying the Planet.

I am wondering if folks are even aware of their impact on climate change while enjoying the cool breeze of their air-conditioning.

Some folks say they can’t go without air-conditioning in the summertime, I am certainly not one of them.

As we are talking about climate change, pollution, and sustainable ways of living, many of us are sitting indoors using air-conditioners.

Let’s talk about a few numbers released by the International Energy Agency (IEA):

>> Since 1990 sales quadrupled to 135 million units worldwide.

>> There are around 1.6 billion units in use worldwide—half of these units are in the United States and China.

>> These units use 2.000 terawatt-hours (TWh) each year—two and a half times more than Africa in total.

And all of a sudden that cool breeze doesn’t feel that good anymore, right?

When I was living in Costa Rica, I always noticed how my North American (it’s not only folks from the United States, eh?) friends cooled down their apartments without even thinking about the energy consumption. We are talking about yoga teachers, healers, and environmental activists.

It always seemed funny to me that air-conditioning was almost treated as a human right by these folks. When I told a tourist who took my yoga class that I do not have air-conditioning in my apartment, he said, “I couldn’t live like that. I guess that’s the downside of Costa Rica.”

Yeah, right? Warm temperatures are a downside? Why are people enjoying hot yoga classes then?

Everything that is below body temperature is literally manageable for our bodies, and if not, maybe it’s time to visit a doctor. What most of us complain about is the discomfort of not being used to the heat—or better said: being used to air-conditioning.

I understand that there are areas in the world where temperatures are above body temperature, and in these cases, it’s appropriate to use technology, but there is no need to crank up the unit and cool down the room by 20-30 degrees. Just below body temperature should be fine.

This is probably a pretty European point of view, as we don’t really use air-conditioning over here. If it’s hot, we complain about it, and then get over it. But there is a trend of more and more folks adapting to the North American way of life—I guess every unnecessary SUV (our roads are not that bad) comes with an air-conditioning unit.

It’s always easy to point fingers at corporations and greedy billionaires when it comes to climate change, but much harder to question our own behaviors that seem normal.

Everyone can make their own decisions about what is acceptable and what isn’t. But I think that using more energy than all of Africa just to prevent feeling warm in summer is kind of ridiculous.

 

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