Ah, air conditioning. It cools our homes and apartments, offices and factories, shopping malls and restaurants, cars and subway trains. In 2016, there were 1.6 billion air conditioners worldwide, and by 2026, there will be six billion air conditioners and refrigerators and refrigeration units. Demand grows as global climate warms. Right now, over 90 percent of households in the United States and Japan have air conditioning, while fewer than 10 percent of households in the tropics possess it.
Air conditioners and refrigeration units put greenhouse gases into our atmosphere—by leaking hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and by using electricity generated by burning coal, oil, and natural gas. Combined, they inject four billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air per year. And the more the world uses air conditioning and refrigeration, the warmer the atmosphere gets, upping the demand and requiring more energy expenditure. The obvious answers to these problems, of course, are units that do not leak and switching from burning fossil fuels to solar and wind power.
The above data come from The Economist (“Global Cooling,” August 25, 2018). Oddly, the article did not mention the overpopulation that fuels climate change and global warming. And this brings us to … .