Europeans face a heat wave conundrum


If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. last week, Much of Europe And the United State It became a part of the kitchen as heat waves made things even hotter for millions around the world. But while most Americans affected by the sweltering heat found relief, many Europeans found themselves stuck in a figurative kitchen without air conditioning. Air conditioners are not the best planet welfareIt is important to care about its impact on climate change in the long term, but Europeans may need to take more care of themselves in the short term.

If it’s annoyingly hot in the United States, people have many options besides going to the beach. According to the US Energy Information Administration, 88% of American homes have air conditioningTherefore, staying at home is often an option, and if you don’t have air conditioning in your home or want to go out, you can head to restaurants, shops, malls, libraries, museums, and many other buildings to beat the heat.

Keeping things cool isn’t just about comfort, it’s also about productivity and overall health.

But it is an entirely different story in Europe. The Washington Post recently reported that Only 20% of European homes have air conditionersIt is rare to find it in schools or offices. I learned this earlier this year while working as an English language teacher in Poland. My apartment did not have air conditioning. Nor my school. And some places to go in the US to cool off weren’t available either.

On a day trip earlier this month, I was excited about the prospect of spending an afternoon at delightfully great museums looking at art, only to learn that none of the museums I visited had air conditioning. They only had dehumidifiers and a couple of fans to protect their 19th century paintings and medieval wood carvings. The temperature gauge on a display case said it was 28°C (82°F), slightly cooler outside. Stagnant air 82 degrees does not make good conditions for art appreciation.

There are a variety of reasons for the lack of air conditioners in Europe in general. Electricity costs more in Europewhere prices in Germany and Denmark are more than twice the average in the United States Entry is similar between the United States and parts of Europe, but in other parts, salaries are much lower than in the United States, which makes air conditioning less expensive. Climate awareness does a lot Reluctance to embrace technology that contributes to climate change. Other cultural differences may also play a role, Some attribute all kinds of diseases to the movement of air.

But perhaps the most important reason is the difference in climate. Europe located in the north From most parts of the continental United States, which generally makes the weather there much cooler than it is here. For example, heat is rare enough in Germany that temperatures are 79 degrees Fahrenheit Schools and business closures called “hitzefreiNight temperatures are above 68 degrees Fahrenheit Trobenecht or Tropical Night.

When temperatures are cooler on average, air conditioning is less necessary. It doesn’t make sense for most buildings to have air conditioning if it isn’t used often. The average July high in London is 75 Fwhich is 10 degrees cooler than Average high in July in New York.

But as temperatures rise globally due to climate change, this is starting to change. with current heat waveLondon is hotter than average by about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and most of Europe is unprepared for this intensity of heat. Expected high temperatures only in the UK Once every few centuriesbut with relentless carbon emissions, the country could face these temperatures every few years. This problem is made worse by the lack of air conditioning.

in the United States, An average of 702 people die each year from rising temperaturesAnd between 1900 and 2016, The deadliest heat wave in the United States claimed 1,260 lives People in 1980. The current heat wave More than 2000 people were killed Only in Spain and Portugal and Stop some routine operations in the hospital In the UK in 2003, 70,000 European Died from heat-related causes. A study by the American Economic Association found that the hottest schools Associated with lower test scores. Extreme heat often contains Greater impact on the most vulnerable in our socity.

Keeping things cool isn’t just about comfort, it’s also about productivity and overall health.

The world needs its infrastructure to handle the rising temperatures, and air conditioning is part of that infrastructure. It’s not the only way to deal with heat, and it’s not always the best way, but it’s more practical to use air conditioning to adapt existing buildings to climate change rather than tearing down and rebuilding entire neighborhoods with eco-friendly designs.

While Europe can adapt to a warmer climate by getting better at keeping it cool, in the United States we can benefit from taking a page out of the European guide, using air conditioning a little less and working harder to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Increased efficiency and regulatory standards can reduce the impact of air conditioning on the environment while still lowering the temperature. The US Department of Energy notes a new central air conditioner It can achieve 20%-40% savings in energy costs compared to just one 10-year-oldNew air conditioning efficiency standards Coming into force in 2023.

And while the blast of cold air can be refreshing, European (and some American) visitors often Note that we keep our buildings a little cooler than they should be. Setting the thermostat a few degrees higher in the summer is better for the environment and your wallet.

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