Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

It’s About That Time: Air-Conditioning Is Showing Up in the News Again

In A/C news on May 26, 2011 at 12:48 pm

A roundup of recent stories that feature air-conditioning:

  • A whopping 70 percent of electricity burned in Kuwait during evening hours goes for A/C.
  • The City of Chicago’s official plan for dealing with global warming includes installing air-conditioning in all 750 of the city’s public schools. That can be expected to generate about a ton and a half of additional carbon dioxide per cooled classroom, to help ensure that the next generation of students will be even more dependent on A/C!
  • “Survey Finds Majority of Canadians Frigid” (The Financial Post’s headline, not mine!) Sixty-four percent of Canadians keep their A/C thermostats below 72 degrees F.
  • From mild New England: “An annual report on the Connecticut environment tells of a worrisome trend: residents used more electricity in 2010 at home than in the three years before that.The increase was due to the sweltering summer, when air conditioning units turned on more often and worked harder. Even those people who used electricity more efficiently most of the year used more during heat waves.”
  • Down in Annapolis, Maryland, the Public Housing Authority has banned window air-conditioners in some public housing complexes because they can block windows meant to be used for escape in case of fire or other emergencies. One response:  “Robert Eades, a public housing activist and former resident, said he plans to seek help from the American Civil Liberties Union. ‘Air conditioning is not a luxury,’ said Eades, who said there are many elderly people and those with disabilities in public housing. ‘It’s a necessity. To be boxed into these houses with no air conditioner is a health hazard.'”
  • According to the Japan Times Online, many Japanese commuters are going to have a hot ride to work this summer: “Fears of unbearable heat this summer for train commuters in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area are mounting for two reasons: (1) Electric power shortages triggered by the accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station may force East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), the major operator of commuter trains, to suspend the use of air conditioners; and (2) with the train cars now in use, windows can be opened only partially to let in fresh air even when the air conditioning is off. An expert in railway technologies has pointed out that designers of today’s commuter trains did not take into account the possibility of air-conditioning cuts to conserve electricity.” Because of the company’s commuter trains “were designed on the assumption that the inside car temperature would always be controlled by air conditioning,” windows are permanently sealed.

Open-Window Classroom a “Death Trap”?

In A/C news on May 21, 2011 at 8:21 am

When the outdoor temperature in Bartlett, Illinois in the western suburbs of Chicago hit 90 degrees this past May 10, the principal of Eastview Middle School decided not to shut down the boiler for the year and turn on the air-conditioning, because the forecast called for lows in the 30s in coming days. Instead, Donald Donner asked teachers to open the windows and let a breeze in. Classroom temperatures remained in the 70s, according to Donner, but a student told a local reporter, “It was hot. Kids were making fans and stuff out of their assignment notebooks.”

That was too much for the student’s mother, Rita Deany, who told the local Courier-News that the school became a “death trap

Deany said she knows “for sure” two students passed out on May 10, including the one in her daughter’s chorus class, and that one student reported the temperatures on thermometers in his classroom hit 86 degrees.She pulled her three children out of school to cool off “for a couple hours” the next day, she said. And after several hours of trying to get information from the school that day, she said, she filed a police report against the school with the Bartlett Police Department.“My kids were dizzy, nauseous, red eyes. They wanted to go to sleep. They were worn out,” Deany said … “I’m wondering who was looking out for the children,” she said.

“Who was looking out for the children”: the ultimate weapon of intimidation. Principal Donner told the Courier-News that no students had passed out, at least not until an ill student fainted two days later, well after the air-conditioning had been turned on at Deany’s insistence.

Many generations of students have lived through warm spring days without harm; to them, the rising heat brought thoughts not of illness and death but of the summer vacation that lay around the corner.  Overly protective parents appear to be far more heat sensitive than their offspring.

Even the parents of college-age students are susceptible. This spring, officials at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas decided during a brief hot spell to delay switching from boiler to AC. When temperatures in dormitory rooms rose, some students reportedly headed out to the grass of a football field for an outdoor slumber party. As far as the college was concerned, everything was cool, so to speak, until a few students told their parents back home of the lack of AC. The college was flooded with calls from irate parents the rest of the week, until well after a cool front had come through Kansas.

‘Losing Our Cool’ in the News

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2011 at 7:53 am

In the media over the past 12 months:

Stan Cox in the Washington Post on “D.C. without A.C.

Cox in the Los Angeles Times on how we live and work in the A/C world

New York Times: “No Air-Conditioning, and Happy

David Owen in The New Yorker on “The Efficiency Dilemma” (Dec. 20-27, 2010; sorry, subscription-only)

Chicago Sun-Times: Mark Brown tries to convince his wife to turn off the A/C

Hear an interview with Cox on NPR’s Marketplace, and read tips on keeping cool

Cox on the A/C life in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jason Zasky talks with Cox: Failure magazine

Interview with the Belgrave Trust

Interview (mp3) with Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock

More on keeping cool from Yes! magazine

The downside of A/C on Here and Now

Kevin Canfield on Losing Our Cool in the Los Angeles Times

Watch the KSN-TV report, also seen on the Weather Channel and NBC affiliates across the U.S.  

Hear “Life without Air-Conditioning” on The Takeaway

An interview with Ryan Brown of Salon.com

Tom Condon on Losing Our Cool in the Hartford Courant

With National Geographic News Watch

Hear “Chilling Facts About Air Conditioners“, a one-hour interview and call-in with Stan Cox on the NPR program On Point

Rob Sharp in The Independent (UK): Cold Comfort

Cox answers adversaries via CounterPunch

Does this A/C make me look fat?

The Wichita Eagle on Losing Our Cool

Losing Our Cool interview: video on MSNBC

A review by the Dallas Morning News

An article on Losing Our Cool in the Boston Globe.

Q&A on A/C in the business world, in the New York Post

KWCH-TV interview

A Minneapolis Star-Tribune interview

Glenn Beck doesn’t want to hear about turning off the A/C

Nevada shaped by fans of A/C: the Las Vegas Sun

TIME on the history of air-conditioning

An interview with the National Post‘s Joe O’Connor

Macleans: How Air-Conditioning Changed the World

An A/C  Q&A with Discovery’s Planet Green

How to stay cool without A/C even in America’s hot zones

A CBC Radio interview

Stan Cox in the Hartford Courant: Air-Conditioning is Sapping Our Society

Paul Cox: “Birth of the Air Conditioner

Read Chapter 1 of Losing Our Cool:

rightsideChapter 1 — reprinted in pdf format by ColdType

Read Chapter 1 here

Publisher’s Weekly reviews Losing Our Cool.

A review in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

A Globe and Mail interview on staying cool in Canada

An essay written by Stan Cox for Powell’s Books: “In Making Our Own Weather, Have We Remade Ourselves?”.

A May 19 story in the Salina Journal.

The Birth of the Cool

In Uncategorized on May 1, 2011 at 7:49 am

Visiting my son Paul Cox in Brooklyn this weekend, I had a chance to visit a large building that once housed the Sackett and Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company — the site of the world’s first modern air-conditioning system, installed in 1902. You can read the story of this site that changed history in Paul’s piece for BushwickBK from last year.

The exterior

In the basement area where Willis Carrier’s air-conditioning system had been located. No, that’s not it; it’s apparently a fire pump.

Rectangular holes like the one in this ‘chimney’, now blocked up,  fed sheet-metal ducts that carried cool air through the building. This was ‘process’ air-conditioning, used to improve the printing environment. The first ‘comfort’ air-conditioning system was installed soon after at the New York Stock Exchange.

  Let’s check out the roof. That ‘alarm’ sign? Don’t worry about that!

View toward Queens from the roof

The elevator shaft

Time to clear out.