Earth Day Editorial - Can you say no to air conditioning?

Today, April 22, we recognize the importance of the Earth in our own existence.  This planet is that platform for our lives, food sources, homes, water and so much much more. Today is set aside to discuss how very important the Earth is to us in the hopes that we will reduce pollution and other hazards we may have created or are actively creating.

On this Earth Day, I'd like to raise the issue of air conditioning. The use of motors, compressors and fans to exchange heat from inside a structure to out of doors. 

Since the invention of air conditioning in 1902, we have utilized the process and equipment to not only make Summer more comfortable, but also to make hot desert areas habitable. Consider the large cities of the South West: Las Vegas, Dallas, Albuquerque. Without cheap electricity and affordable airconditioning equipment, these cities would be mere dusty villages. 

Take a look at the included temperature graph from NASA. Consider that the Hoover Dam was dedicated in 1935, bringing cheap electricity to the South West US. It raises the question: Did cheap electricity and the invention of Air Conditioning in any way affect the outdoor temperature of the Earth?

There are other reasons to dislike air conditioning. It can render Summer an indoor, insular experience almost as bad as Winter as people retreat from the heat to the indoors. 

Before the wide use of air conditioning in this country people spent time outdoors on porches, in creeks, ponds and rivers. Inside doors were left open so that all that came between outside and inside was a flimsy screen door. Canoeing together in the shade of the shorelines. Swimming in the cold mountain ponds of World's End and RB Winters State Parks.  People left their windows wide open all night hoping for a soft breeze or the sound of a coming rain storm. 

But with the coming of air conditioning, the doors and windows were shut up tight. Home builders stopped including porches in home designs.  Auto designs include air conditioning so we don't need to suffer the seasonal heat while on the hot road. Schools in  our area, which did not have air conditioning in the 1960s have been adding it.

In the 1960s and 70s there was considerable pollution in our area rivers and streams which may have further pushed us inside. The situation is much better now, but we've stayed indoors.

It's time to consider what the convenience of air conditioning has done to us heat wise and in regard to our neighborhood interaction. Every air conditioner is an outdoor heater, transferring heat from indoors to the outside. 

Consider the possibility that every air conditioner contributes to atmospheric, and therefore Global, warming.  Everytime we run an indoor clothes dryer we send artificially heated air outside. 

There are other reasons to rail against what air conditioning has done to our society, encouraging us to stay indoors on warm days, missing out of the beneficial vitamin D filled sunshine. Lessening the interaction with our next door neighbors. 

But on this Earth day, let us consider our actions toward the planet. So much talk about Global Warming and Climate Change sounds so distant to us. What can one person possibly do that would make a difference?

This Summer consider your options. You can keep these outside heaters OFF. You can open your car windows and let your hair get messed up on the way home from work. You can have a row of sleepless nights during a heat wave like people did for thousands of years. 

Each Summer I pass by large institutional buildings in town that have air conditioners running all of the time. Weekends, holidays, all night long the motors run making noise that cuts through the soft chirping of crickets. No one is in the buildings for most of the time. Yet the air inside is cool and the air outside is artificially being warmed. 

The Main Stream Media may not say this. They have air conditioner companies as sponsors. 

Today is the day to consider our actions.

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