The decade's most triggering comedy
After one of the hottest spells of Summer 2022, which spread across the globe for up to a week, CNN ran a piece saying Americans should be more like Europe and forego using air conditioning.
Britain was hard hit by the heat wave, reaching the thermometer topping 100 degrees for several days in a row. The problem: only about 5% of people in the U.K. have air conditioning because the temperature on the rainy island ranges from the high 50s to the high 80s in the hottest months.
So Paul Hockenos, a Berlin-based writer focusing on renewable energy in Europe, penned a piece headlined: “A very European answer to air conditioning.”
The writer notes he has only a fan in his Berlin apartment and says, “Europeans had, until recently, done their own grousing about Americans’ infatuation with AC: so wasteful in its high energy usage, unhealthy with the frosty temperatures in mid-summer and annoying given the incessant buzz of the window units!”
Hockenos said air conditioning is “yet another luxury item of an everything-all-the-time population that insisted on a constant temperature year-round.” But what about the environmental impact, the writer pondered.
In the U.S., about 90% of homes have air conditioning (many homes in upper New England just don’t need it). And Europe is moving in that direction, Hockenos writes. “This year’s sweltering temperatures have seen AC purchases skyrocket in France and the UK, according to the climate data firm Kayrros. The trend is unmistakable: two-thirds of the world’s households could have an air conditioner by 2050.”
But the writer says with rising temperatures, the world will be trapped in “the vicious circle of air conditioning,” and he even took aim at refrigerators.
“Namely, AC is an extremely energy-intensive means of cooling space. According to a World Bank report from 2019, cooling tech such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and other devices chalk up as much as 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than double the footprint of aviation and maritime together! At this rate, cooling emissions could double by 2030 and triple by 2100, added the report,” he wrote.
Eventually he gets to the answer: wind, solar, hydroelectric.
And he got one more scold for everyone in the U.S.
“Americans could learn a thing or two from the rest of the world when it comes to habits — since the vicious circle is nowhere more damning in those countries with the most units: China, US and Japan. It is self-indulgent to insist on chilly temperatures in the middle of summer and rooms at T-shirt warmth in winter. The donning of sweaters indoors when it’s cold outside, not because the AC is cranked up so high, is surely a habit one can adapt to,” Hockenos concludes.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.