The Washington Post
Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summerby Stan Cox
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Losing our Cool shows how indoor climate control is colliding with an out-of-control outdoor climate. In America, energy consumed by home air-conditioning, and the resulting greenhouse emissions, have doubled in just over a decade, and energy to cool retail stores has risen by two-thirds. Now the entire affluent world is adopting the technology. As the biggest economic crisis in eighty years rolls across the globe, financial concerns threaten to shove ecological crises into the background. Reporting from some of the world’s hot zonesfrom Phoenix, Arizona, and Naples, Florida, to southern IndiaCox documents the surprising ways in which air-conditioning changes human experience: giving a boost to the global warming that it is designed to help us endure, providing a potent commercial stimulant, making possible an impossible commuter economy, and altering migration patterns (air-conditioning has helped alter the political hue of the United States by enabling a population boom in the red-state Sun Belt).
While the book proves that the planet’s atmosphere cannot sustain even our current use of air-conditioning, it also makes a much more positive argument that loosening our attachment to refrigerated air could bring benefits to humans and the planet that go well beyond averting a climate crisis. Though it saves lives in heat waves, air-conditioning may also be altering our bodies’ sensitivity to heat; our rates of infection, allergy, asthma, and obesity; and even our sex drive. Air-conditioning has eroded social bonds and thwarted childhood adventure; it has transformed the ways we eat, sleep, travel, work, buy, relax, vote, and make both love and war. The final chapter surveys the many alternatives to conventional central air-conditioning. By reintroducing some traditional cooling methods, putting newly emerging technologies into practice, and getting beyond industrial definitions of comfort, we can make ourselves comfortable and keep the planet comfortable, too.
The Washington Post
- New Press, The
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Meet the Author
Stan Cox is a senior research scientist at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, where he works with a team of scientists on breeding perennial grain crops for future, ecologically resilient food-production systems. He has a PhD in plant genetics from Iowa State University and served as a research geneticist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1983 to 1996. He lived in India from 1980 to 1982 and from 1996 to 2000; in the later period, he worked with the Institute for Rural Health Studies in Hyderabad on a study of cervical cancer in rural areas. He has published approximately 80 scientific papers and book chapters.
Cox's columns have appeared in the Denver Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Chicago Sun-Times, the Baltimore Sun, the Hartford Courant, the Kansas City Star, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the San Jose Mercury-News, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Providence Journal, and scores of smaller papers in 27 states. He has been writing investigative environmental pieces for AlterNet since January 2005 and writes frequently for CounterPunch and CommonDreams.org. He is on the editorial board of the Green journal Synthesis/Regeneration.
He is the author of Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine and contributed a chapter to Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn.
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