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Of Fans and Air Conditioners (How Many Earths?: A Postscript) July 8, 2010

Posted by contrapuntalplatypus in Environment, How Many Earths? (Adventures in Ecological Living), Nature, Saving the World.
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For much of the past week my area, together with large regions of the continent, has been hit by a scorching heat wave. For the first day or two it wasn’t so bad, but last night my apartment didn’t cool off at all, and my little bedside fan wasn’t doing the trick. I wasn’t affected so much as my poor Rumi, who went dashing around from one end of the apartment to the other panting and looking for some cool air. (I finally swabbed him down with a cool, wet cloth and that seemed to work.) Needless to say it’s been difficult to practice, or write another blog entry, or do much of anything…

So this morning I went looking for something that would, at least, help the situation until the promised cool front moved in this weekend.

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The problem is, I didn’t want to jump on the air conditioning bandwagon. I have a fundamental antipathy to air conditioning. There’s something wrong with the idea of it: we already condition our lawns, our water, the food we produce, our bodies…anything that we see as dissatisfactory in its natural state. Is nothing to be left alone? What kind of society needs to collectively condition even the air it breathes?

Not to mention that, the more we go around running our air conditioners, the more pollution and carbon dioxide we’ll generate – heating up our Earth and reducing our air quality even more and making it necessary for us to run our air conditioners more often. It’s a vicious cycle, and a dangerous one. Air conditioning, with our current level of technology, is fundamentally unsustainable and and only worsens the problem in the long term.

Also, I grew up without air conditioning – none of my friends had it either. Our region wasn’t especially humid, but reached searing temperatures in summer, sometimes 40 C or higher. It was hot, but we lived with it. It was just part of summer, like intense cold was part of winter; no point in complaining about either. There was a time when nobody had air conditioning and we seemed to do just fine as a society. Have we collectively gotten way more whimpy, or are we just so used to continual comfort we can’t bear to give it up?

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So, with these thoughts in mind, I resolutely headed out in search of a fan. After checking three or four places, I found the model I was looking for in a discount store, which had dozens of fans while all the rest of the city seemed to be out (kudos to Giant Tiger!) Interestingly, though some stores still had air conditioners in stock (indeed, on sale!), the fans were sold out pretty universally. I suspect this has more to do with the far cheaper cost of buying and running them than a wave of ecological consciousness spreading throughout our city, but it’s a hopeful sign in any case…

(Speaking of which, the local Shoppers Drug Mart started charging for plastic bags this week. Another excellent step in the right direction!)

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