"Totally Dependent on Air Conditioning" (a podcast recommendation)

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.

Air conditioning has changed how the built environment is designed.

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.