Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One question: Has this guy given up his A/C?

Last Sunday, I read a column in the Washington Post by one Stan Cox. Mr. Cox thinks that in the name of the environment, we should get rid of air conditioning. Yes, the largest, most influential newspaper in our nation's capital city actually gave several inches of column space to this nonsense.

I laughed it off on Sunday, but half a week later, I am still hearing people talk about it, and I am still finding discussions of it on the Internet.

First, Mr. Cox makes the predictable appeal to ditch air conditioning as a way of saving the planet from us evil humans. The science is settled dontcha know?
In a country that's among the world's highest greenhouse-gas emitters, air conditioning is one of the worst power-guzzlers. The energy required to air-condition American homes and retail spaces has doubled since the early 1990s. Turning buildings into refrigerators burns fossil fuels, which emits greenhouse gases, which raises global temperatures, which creates a need for -- you guessed it -- more air-conditioning...
There is the matter of that pesky sun raising global temperatures more consistently than man-produced particles in the air, but that is another topic for another day.

If an appeal to your inner-greenie doesn't work, Mr. Cox then makes the case that a world without air conditioning would give us an excuse to be more lazy!
In a world without air conditioning, a warmer, more flexible, more relaxed workplace helps make summer a time to slow down again. Three-digit temperatures prompt siestas. Code-orange days mean offices are closed. Shorter summer business hours and month-long closings -- common in pre-air-conditioned America -- return...
No thanks. Don't forget that one person's workplace is another person's convenience. Lots of people work in the mall, but when I go there as a customer, I want the mall to feel like a frickin' meat locker when I walk in from 105-degrees on a typical Sacramento summer day. I also don't want the mall to be closed for a month during the hottest months of the year; as a teacher, that's when I am most available to do my shopping and browsing!

If Cox's laziness argument doesn't work for you, how about the lack of A/C causing our Congresscritters to shelve their kleptocratic ways and flee the heat and humidity of a D.C. summer?
Best of all, Washington's biggest business -- government -- is transformed. In 1978, 50 years after air conditioning was installed in Congress, New York Times columnist Russell Baker noted that, pre-A.C., Congress was forced to adjourn to avoid Washington's torturous summers, and "the nation enjoyed a respite from the promulgation of more laws, the depredations of lobbyists, the hatching of new schemes for Federal expansion and, of course, the cost of maintaining a government running at full blast."

Post-A.C., Congress again adjourns for the summer, giving "tea partiers" the smaller government they seek. During unseasonably warm spring and fall days, hearings are held under canopies on the Capitol lawn. What better way to foster open government and prompt politicians to focus on climate change?
That's it, do it for the TEA Party! And there he goes again with that man-caused climate change nonsense. One problem. Do you honestly think that those elitist scum on Capitol Hill would actually give up their air conditioning? C'mon, those A/C rules would be for the peasants, not the exhalted national legislature. I can hear the arguments already: The work of Congress is far too important to be delayed on account of heat and humidity. We must have Air Conditioning in the workplaces of our Representative and Senators so that they may continue to do the people's business unabated.

The members of Congress who bleat about how human activity causes climate change are often the same ones who tool around in their greenhouse gas-spewing private (public) jets that are funded by Joe Taxpayer, *cough* Nancy Pelosi *cough*, so scratch that argument.

There are still plenty of people who are old enough to remember a world without air conditioning, at least where they lived. Heck, I grew up without it growing up in the 1980s in northwestern California. Luckily, I lived in a place where it was never too hot for that long, the humidity wasn't so bad, and I could often jump into a creek during the summer. Of course, I was a kid; adults don't always have that kind of flexibility with their schedule. I'm sure you would get some interesting stories from people who grew up back east where the heat and humidity are on a scale that is unimaginable to people on the west coast who have never had the opportunity to experience a summer east of the Mississippi.

I spent June through September in South Carolina going through Army Basic Training. Do you know what one of my few pleasures was during that time? The air conditioning in my barracks when I slept at night. I don't know what I would have done without it.

It seems to me that Mr. Cox wants to take the human race back to the time we lived in caves. Hey, at least the temperature in caves tends to be cool. So, enjoy your cave Mr. Cox. I am going to leave my thermostat at 78.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was, and never will be." -Thomas Jefferson

1 comment:

Darren said...

Mine's at 73, and I won't apologize to anyone for keeping it there.