Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Local Habitation and a Name...

H. sapiens, having killed off or at least survived all his close cousins, has occupied almost every ecology on Earth. We sometimes forget that almost none of these would be habitable without technology. Our most basic problem since leaving the African plains has been staying warm. The technological solution was clothing and shelter. Without these our ecological range would shrink by an enormous extent, and without them in the past, we would probably never have expanded much beyond Africa.

Global warming presents a new series of challenges. Some of them are probably irresistible, like the drowning of significant coastal land. Others are problems for which solutions are already known.

In the United States the most significant movement of the past 70 years has been the movement from cold climates into the South. This is primarily due to air conditioning, and especially, refrigerated air. Without them, the area around Phoenix Arizona would be almost unlivable. With them, it's a bustling and rapidly growing city.

Air conditioning, like most of the rest of our technology, consumes energy. Right now, our energy comes predominantly from the combustion of fossil fuels. This circumstance makes air conditioning powered by fossil fuel combustion a counterproductive way to deal with climate change. There are alternatives.

I run refrigerating air conditioning on my house, not only to deal with heat, but because it helps with the allergies and asthma that my wife and I have. This doesn't use much fossil fuel energy though, since I have several solar power units on my roof, and consequently get a check from the power company every few months.