99% Invisible is a consistently interesting, design-focused podcast that often features episodes on architecture and the built environment. Hosted by a man with a surprising interest in flags and a wonderfully cool name - Roman Mars - the show highlights unseen or overlooked aspects of design.
A recent episode looked at the rise of air conditioning in buildings - and if that sounds a little uninspiring then it's because you're yet to hear how 99% Invisible covers the stories it features. You can remedy that, and at the same time discover under what circumstances a 29 deg.C internal temperature can be considered comfortable, by following this link.
Among several moments to make the listener sit up and take notice, the description of our over-reliance on air conditioning is particularly startling. The advent of air conditioning meant:
"they [architects] could stop designing for human comfort..."
The designing out of passive cooling strategies - vernacular features developed to keep building occupants cool in pre-air conditioning times - has resulted in buildings that couldn't function if the AC was removed. And as the episode, and its accompanying write-up, says: in the USA, the total greenhouse emissions of air conditioning units are more than the country's construction industry.
All of which brought to mind this recent article - a cartoon for 'anyone who doubts we need huge action on climate change'. We've got until 2065 to reduce our emissions to zero and invent some currently non-existent technology, otherwise things are going to get a whole lot more uncomfortable than simply having no air conditioning to keep us cool.