When we learned to harness thermodynamics and heat transfer – when, that is, we figured out how to make refrigerators and air conditioners – the human species took one of its greatest progressive leaps. No longer did humanity have to swelter in heat and humidity. No longer did the elderly and the young have to die at the whim of a heat wave. As unevenly distributed as it was and is, refrigeration is a manifestation of humanity’s refusal to accept the world as it came.
Two conclusions follow.
First, we should find ways to help everyone enjoy the benefits of this remarkable technology. I do not want to hear anyone whine about ‘traditional cultures’. Nor do I care about ‘carbon footprints’ and other such chimera. Certainly no one should design buildings with such reckless disregard for waste as we find, say, in Dubai, or the more mobbed up counties in Florida. All the same, let there be more, not less, air conditioning.
Second, and this is personal, if you run a restaurant or a coffee shop, for the love of God crank down the temperature on the air conditioning. Come to think of it, let all buildings be *cold* compared to the summer heat. Malls, theaters, barber shops – whatever, turn down the damned temperature. Yes, use fans, innovative building design, new insulation materials that eliminate waste. Do all that, and more, but first, turn down the temperature on the thermostat.
Think of the advantages offered by cool, pleasant public buildings. Who knows, grown men might even stop dressing like awkward schoolboys.