July 3, 2018, by Brigitte Nerlich

Air con and the apocalypse

I have recently spent a lot of time in official spaces, GP surgeries, hospitals etc. Where in the past one would sit with a window or door open, there is now air conditioning.

In Eye Casualty the other day, I heard the head nurse tell a junior: “Didn’t you read the memo? We are not allowed to open the door [to a nice shady courtyard], as that interferes with the air condition”. There I was, with an eye condition that gets worse in air condition, trying to hide in a corner farthest away from this source of torture, in Eye Casualty.

That made me think. Years ago, my sister moved to New Mexico. She was proud to not have air con in a land of air con. But then, after some heat waves and wildfires, they had to relent and install air con. She could not survive without it. Wild fires and air con – that was over there somewhere, in the US or in India or Pakistan or Dubai or Australia or China or… but not here in dear old England. We don’t have air con in our houses. Air con is something for others, as are wildfires….hmmm.

Perhaps things are changing. Air con is nibbling at the edges, creeping in from official spaces to, perhaps, soon, domestic spaces. For me, personally, that’s the apocalypse.

I am in a bit of a catastrophising mood, I have to admit, so take all this with a pinch of salt!

The stats

Extreme heat events are increasing, urban populations are increasing, so demand for air con is increasing, even in Europe. So air con is here to stay, whether I like it or not. This also means “cooling is not a luxury good. It is as a fundamental component of modern life”.

A recent study by Wenz et al. has investigated the major shifts in electricity consumption in Europe due to air conditioning: “A few decades ago, no ordinary car in Europe had air conditioning, today almost every automobile has it – the same development will probably happen with buildings in Europe, yet not for reasons of comfort but due to necessity. People will need to cool down their environments to keep up their life and economic productivity” …. That future scares me somewhat!

The anecdotes

Just a few tweets!

“So it was warmer today in Scotland than all sorts of hot and exotic places like Miami… but do you know what houses in Miami have? AIR CON!!!”

“The heatwave is here! Don’t suffer this summer, contact us today for a free quote to get your home air conditioned before we get fully booked up! Units starting from £1300.”

“Two houses down have an #aircon guy in fitting out the house on a Sunday evening. That’s a serious bet on the summer.”

“The best bit of furniture in the bedroom #aircon”

“According to my #Hive my bedroom is 27 degrees at almost 9pm… I want #aircon now!”

Final thoughts

And, can you believe it, I also had to buy a humidifier for the bedroom. I tell you: a HUMIDIFIER, in ENGLAND. If that’s not a sign of the apocalypse, I don’t know what is!

Oh, and air con is also sometimes called ‘climate control’, isn’t that ironic!

In reality air con is not only a signal but also an amplifier of climate change.

It’s a solution but also a problem. The problem for me is, it dries out the eyes. But I bet there are others.

Image: Public domain




Posted in Climate Change