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Air conditioning: the benefits, problems and alternatives

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By illuminem briefings

· 2 min read

illuminem summarizes for you the essential news of the day. Read the full piece in The Guardian or enjoy below 

🗞️ Driving the news: The escalating heat waves globally are fueling an unprecedented demand for air conditioning (AC)
• The International Energy Agency anticipates a 244% worldwide surge in AC units by 2050, with Climate Central forecasting a 59% increase in the U.S. alone

🔭 The context: Yet, the increased use of AC presents considerable environmental and societal hurdles
• Underserved communities globally often lack cooling technologies, while increased AC usage can strain power grids and elevate greenhouse gas emissions due to energy-intensive operation and harmful refrigerants like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

🌎 Why does it matter for the planet: Rising reliance on AC could exacerbate global warming, as AC units are projected to be the biggest contributor to growing energy demand by 2050
• The use of potent greenhouse gases in most AC units worsens the situation
• On the other hand, improving AC access and efficiency could save lives as extreme heat becomes more common

⏭️ What's next: Efforts are underway to reduce AC costs, enhance power grid reliability, and promote energy-efficient cooling technologies like electric heat pumps
• Options like fans, dehumidifiers, air coolers, and low-tech strategies, including improved architectural design and tree planting for shade, are also valuable alternatives

💬 One quote: "In much of the world, in many countries, we’re concerned that people who most need air conditioning don’t have it" (Narasimha Rao, professor of energy systems at Yale University)

📈 One stat: The US broke its summer record for daily gas consumption on at least two separate occasions, data from S&P Global Commodity Insights shows, and AC usage is a key contributor

Click for more news covering the latest on sustainable lifestyle

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