The case for air conditioning

Two women on the Jersey Shore

Two women on the Jersey Shore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I suggest you sing air conditioning’s praises. Seriously, I do. But I know you won’t. You probably won’t even think about it until it goes out on you one day like a wayward significant other.

It seems like it was just yesterday when I wrote about how in the beginning of the summer we run into friends and promise to get together soon. Well, that was about a year ago. And it’s not even summer just yet, but once the 4th of July gets here we begin the rapid descent into fall and football. Yay! But I digress, and happily so.

Baseball can be fun and should be enjoyed during the summer months. But the heat of summer makes me long for winter’s cool and it’s all here again before you know it.

Life is so rapidly cyclical yet we act and live as if our seasons will last well beyond 90 days.

Since we’re about to enter summer I’d like to wax poetically on one of the most underrated and perhaps greatest, inventions of all time: air conditioning.

That’s right. Air conditioning is right up there with the light bulb, frozen dinners and the Internet—yes, the Internet, too.

Air conditioning actually facilitates the Internet because we couldn’t have racks of desktop servers functioning in 90 degree weather now, could we? Forget about it.

I was eating out last weekend and the air conditioning in the restaurant wasn’t working. We like to go to this place, but it was pretty unbearable. We ate light, drank a cool, adult beverage and got out of there before our clothes began sticking to us entirely.

It really made me think about the value of air conditioning. It’s one of those things everyone takes for granted.

Look at how unnatural-looking air conditioning is in everyday life, though. We see automobiles rolling around town with the windows up when it’s 90 plus outside. Who can’t appreciate the irony that summer weather promises us more outdoor activity and engagement with one another, but not through our vehicles? We’re shut off like we are on our computers and tablets from each other. The common bond being that air conditioning shows us the way in comfort whether inside our vehicles or homes.

People that complain it’s too cold in the office during winter time typically don’t complain when it’s too cold in the summer time. Again, to the contrary, they enjoy the cool during summer. Same temperature in the office during winter time doesn’t cut it though. The illusion of calm, cool, focused environments that air conditioning powers is the only difference. Air conditioning plays a trick on our minds. We sleep better when it’s cool. Maybe that’s why office workers like air conditioning so much.

I know I never really cared too much about air conditioning until later in life. If I wanted a breeze I’d run a fan or roll down the windows. If I wanted to cool off, I’d take a dip in the ocean. There were all sorts of ways to cool off last century.

That was all before the invention of the heat index—one of the worst inventions of all time. It seems it wasn’t enough for the mercury in the thermometer to rise to 96. The heat index would make anything in the 80s “feel” like the temperature was 96.

I think the heat index really got me to appreciating air conditioning. It’s not like I quote the heat index, but we all start our days wondering how hot it’ll get. It really doesn’t matter at the end of the day as long as the power grid is functioning.

Air conditioning will keep us and our devices cool during the hottest of days and that’s something to talk about. But we never do. To this day, air conditioning remains one of, if not the most, undermentioned and undervalued, greatest inventions of all time.


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