Started by Amanda_931, August 07, 2006, 12:44:20 PM
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QuoteThank goodness for air conditioning. To keep old folks alive, cities from Washington to Los Angeles are opening artificially cooled buildings to the public. Meanwhile, people are lining up to buy window units. According to the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, shipments of air conditioners and heat pumps have tripled over the last three decades. The percentage of single-family homes built with central air has gone from 36 to 87. The percentage of cars built with air conditioning has risen from 61 to 98. In 1970, only 42 percent of occupied mobile homes had it. By 2003, that percentage had more than doubled.It's a heartwarming—or, more precisely, a heart-cooling—story. Unfortunately, the story doesn't end there. Air conditioning takes indoor heat and pushes it outdoors. To do this, it uses energy, which increases production of greenhouse gases, which warm the atmosphere. From a cooling standpoint, the first transaction is a wash, and the second is a loss. We're cooking our planet to refrigerate the diminishing part that's still habitable.All over the country, power consumption is breaking records, and air conditioning is a huge reason why. We use about one-sixth of our electricity to cool ourselves. That's more than the total electricity consumption of India, a country whose population exceeds 1 billion. To get the electricity, we burn oil and coal. We also run air conditioners in our cars, which reduces urban fuel efficiency by up to four miles per gallon, at an annual cost of 7 billion gallons of gasoline.