Interestingly, Hope Jahren fails to mention that she’s given up her own use of air condition, nor that the NY Times building will turn theirs off. Weirdly, this is all in the book reviews section
On Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort
By Eric Dean Wilson
In his prelude to “After Cooling,” Eric Dean Wilson tells us that he started his research not knowing “a tank of Freon from propane.” It’s a subtle chemistry joke, but a good one. By the end of the first 20 pages, however, the reader realizes beyond a doubt that the author is very aware of everything there is to know about what we call air-conditioning. After his deftly persuasive opening argument that cutting back on machine-made cooling is the most pressing environmental task of our generation, Wilson walks us through the science of chemical coolants in detail, both the chemistry and physics of these miracle molecules, and the horrifying discovery of the havoc they wreak within the thin protective layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. (big snip)
Wilson’s research for “After Cooling” was ambitious. “I needed to become more intimate with climate violence,” he writes in his prelude, and proceeds to tackle several controversial themes. He describes how the history of cooling personal and professional spaces is entwined with the history of racism and the institution of slavery. Before mechanical coolers were invented, enslaved children living in intemperate climes were forced to fan their oppressors for long hours, or to move air across containers of water in an effort to cool whole parlors and palaces. “One life was comforted at the expense of another,” Wilson writes with powerful simplicity. Today, he explains, the global socioeconomic gap between those who can effectively cool their surroundings and those who cannot is widening rapidly.
“Climate violence”. I don’t even know what to say with that 2nd paragraph, it’s just so nuts. But, then, this is a cult.
One issue that Wilson does not address, and that I wish he had: how changes in the Western diet have (or have not) influenced our perceived need for air-conditioning, as well as its use. Admittedly, the measurable increase in average personal insulation over the last 50 years is a prickly subject, but surely it’s relevant to any discussion of the ways we modify our personal space.
Interestingly, the same people who yammer about this one are the same who yammer about body positivity, which has morphed from not being shameful to embracing obesity as a good thing (serendipity, Bored Panda has a piece on this today)
“After Cooling” has its greatest impact when it asks us to think deeply about the reasons humans wish to change the temperature of their surroundings. At one time, occasional sweating was simply accepted as a way of life, Wilson postulates, but now we regard comfort as a prerequisite for work and play. But what does it really mean to be comfortable? Is it merely the absence of discomfort, or is it something more? Is it a bodily experience or an emotional state? Wilson invites the reader into deep existential discussions by invoking broad themes of culture and philosophy — an unusual and delightful trait for a book on climate change.
Or, Wilson could mind his own f’ing business. Why do these cultists always want to force their beliefs on Everyone Else?
Wilson dares to state plainly that lasting climate solutions hinge on our capacity to redefine what makes our lives meaningful, not on new technologies or better products. The first baby step may be as simple as experimenting with an air-conditioner on a hot July day, setting the room a few degrees higher than usual, and asking ourselves at bedtime whether we even noticed.
Yeah, mind your own f’ing business. You Warmists want to do this, go for it.
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