The Case for Air-Conditioning is Made of Hot Air: Eric Klinenberg in TIME
The problem lies in the overuse of air-conditioning. Especially, he says, on days when it isn't really required. Or, in places where other cooling methods are available. "In most situations, the case for air-conditioning is made of hot air," he explains. And, he notes that "trying to engineer hot weather out of existence rather than adjust our culture of consumption for the age of climate change is one of our biggest environmental blind spots." Cities like New York have recently prohibited stores from pumping frosty air into the streets as a tactic to lure in customers. While that's certainly a step in the right direction, Klinenberg worries that most people won't be able to dial down the cold without an intervention.
Not only that, but Americans have come to expect that their indoor air will always be crisp. In doing so, they have influenced other countries around the world to desire the same. Our sub-zero preferences have caused energy consumption rates to spike—despite the fact that we desperately need them to decrease. If used conservatively, say, adjusting the room temperature to the mid-70s when fans and open windows aren't cutting it, the benefits can balance the damage done by AC units. But if we continue to demand Arctic temperatures in the midst of blaring summer heat, we may have a problem. In his insightful research, Klinenberg discusses wide-spread sociological and environmental trends affecting our cities. Whether it's the rise of solo living, or the need to reengineer our domestic life to adapt to climate change, Klinenberg's speeches are just as interesting as they are timely and practical.