Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer

Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer

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by 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

Overview

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 zones—from Phoenix, Arizona, and Naples, Florida, to southern India—Cox 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.

Editorial Reviews

Timothy R. Smith
Cox writes in simple, direct prose. He spaces out statistics with anecdotes and fun facts, making a potentially boring subject interesting.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Cox (Sick Planet) provides the first-ever book-length look at the consequences on our environment and on our health of air-conditioning in this enlightening study. He documents how greenhouse emissions increased and ozone depletion skyrocketed once air conditioners became prevalent, and presents staggering statistics: the amount of electricity Americans use for powering their air conditioners alone equals the same amount the 930 million residents of Africa use for all their electricity needs. Cox reveals some surprising information as he explores air conditioning as a potential spreader of contagions—of asthma and allergies and possibly even sexual dysfunctions. He offers a reality check to proposed solutions that have fatal flaws (and may be worse than the problems they attempt to solve) including “dematerialization,” improved AC energy efficiency, and clean energy options. In addition, he provides a list of changes that will help: reducing indoor heat, using fans, utilizing “cool” roofs, and increasing vegetation. Well-written, thoroughly researched, with a truly global focus, the book offers much for consumers, environmentalists, and policy makers to consider before powering up to cool down. (June)
Library Journal
In what may be the first book to address the impact of air-conditioning on our environment and our health, research scientist Cox (Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine) presents a well-researched look at its role in migration patterns, development, rising rates of illness, and ecological degradation. The amount of energy required to control indoor climates, especially in American society, is staggering. As a central trigger in feedback loops of energy consumption, greenhouse gases, ozone depletion, and climate change, air-conditioning has also compromised fragile ecosystems by allowing humans to settle in otherwise less-than-desirable areas. Cox challenges us to redefine our personal comfort in the context of environmental responsibility. He acknowledges that we have built a world around air-conditioning, and he successfully advocates controlling our indoor climate by using both earlier cooling methods and new technologies. VERDICT Cox makes a strong case for cutting energy use, redirecting our focus on cooling spaces to cooling people, and restoring the balance between our indoor and outdoor lives. Recommended for readers interested in environmental issues and technologies.—Robin K. Dillow, Oakton Community Coll., Des Plaines, IL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781595586025
Publisher:
New Press, The
Publication date:
05/25/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
448,113
File size:
475 KB

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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Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer) 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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