Grist on air conditioning in a warming world

Grist’s article today is on the possible ways to reduce the impact of cooling us on a ever-warming planet. The legal work globally to change manufacturing process (chemicals used to cool) is ongoing from work in the 1980s. But, i hold little optimism for global cooperation on climate … Paris worked out, right?

With that said, however, Grist gives good sound advice about what can be can be done while waiting, quote:

While we wait for government action on HFCs, we can reduce demand for air conditioning by designing buildings and cities that stay cool naturally. Simple measures like planting more trees and painting roofs white can go a long way toward reducing the so-called urban heat island effect, the process by which dark pavements and rooftops and heat released from and (ironically) air conditioners cause city temperatures to swell to several degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside. “If you use a cool roof on any building that’s air conditioned, you reduce the solar heat gain for that building,” said George Ban-Weiss, an associate professor at the University of Southern California who studies the urban heat island effect. “That reduces your need for air conditioning.”

Retrofitting buildings and designing new ones to stay cool through, for instance, optimizing the placement of windows to reduce heat entry, can also help. So can new cooling systems like the experimental “Cold Tube” researchers recently tested outdoors in hot and humid Singapore, which uses chilled water to absorb thermal radiation from people who stand near it, helping them cool off.

The authors do a great job of circling this back to social justice as well – climate downsides always impact those who can withstand it the least, quote: ““Every time there is a heat wave, demand goes up, and then the way you would try to avoid major blackouts is you do curtailment, and usually it’s those disadvantaged communities who end up paying the price,” says Roshanak Nateghi, an assistant professor of industrial engineering at Purdue University.”

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