In the wake of one of the hottest heat waves of the Summer of 2022, which swept across the world for over a week, CNN ran a piece stating that Americans should be more like Europe and choose to not make use of air conditioning.
Britain was extremely hard hit by the heat wave, managing a thermometer topping 100 degrees for a stint of several days in a row. The only issue: there are only about 5% of people in the U.K. that can say they have air conditioning due to the temperatures across the rainy island ranging from the high 50s to the high 80s even in their hottest months.
This seems to have sparked Paul Hockenos, a writer based out of Berlin that focuses on renewable energy for Europe, to write an article titled: “A very European answer to air conditioning.”
The writer stated that he only uses a fan for his apartment in Berlin and says, “Europeans had, until recently, done their own grousing about Americans’ infatuation with AC: so wasteful in its high energy usage, unhealthy with the frosty temperatures in mid-summer and annoying given the incessant buzz of the window units!”
Hockenos stated that air conditioning is “yet another luxury item of an everything-all-the-time population that insisted on a constant temperature year-round.” but what about the environmental consequences, questioned the writer.
Across the U.S., over 90% of houses sport air conditioning, with quite a few homes in upper New England not needing to make use of it. However, Europe is quickly moving in the same direction as the U.S., stated Hockenos. “This year’s sweltering temperatures have seen AC purchases skyrocket in France and the UK, according to the climate data firm Kayrros. The trend is unmistakable: two-thirds of the world’s households could have an air conditioner by 2050.”
The writer was quick to state, however, that with the rising temps, the world will be stuck in “the vicious circle of air conditioning,” and he even tried to criticize the use of refrigerators.
“Namely, AC is an extremely energy-intensive means of cooling space. According to a World Bank report from 2019, cooling tech such as refrigerators, air conditioners, and other devices chalk up as much as 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than double the footprint of aviation and maritime together! At this rate, cooling emissions could double by 2030 and triple by 2100, added the report,” he explained.
After a bit of roundabout rambling, the writer finally gives an answer: wind, hydroelectric, solar.
And he issued one more scolding to those within the U.S.
“Americans could learn a thing or two from the rest of the world when it comes to habits — since the vicious circle is nowhere more damning in those countries with the most units: China, US and Japan. It is self-indulgent to insist on chilly temperatures in the middle of summer and rooms at T-shirt warmth in winter. The donning of sweaters indoors when it’s cold outside, not because the AC is cranked up so high, is surely a habit one can adapt to,” finished Hockenos.