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Amidst Rising Heat Waves, UN Says Cooling is a Human Right, Not a Luxury

By Thalif Deen, director & senior editor, UN Bureau, Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency. Deen has been covering the United Nations since the late 1970s. His track record includes a stint as deputy news editor of the Sri Lanka Daily News and senior editorial writer on the Hong Kong Standard. A former military editor Middle East/Africa at Jane’s Information Group, a columnist for the Sri Lanka Sunday Times and a longtime U.N. correspondent for Asiaweek, Hong Kong and Jane’s Defence Weekly, London, he is a Fulbright scholar with a Master’s Degree in journalism from Columbia University, New York. Originally published at Inter Press Service

The rising heat waves in the world’s middle income and poorer nations are threatening the health and prosperity of about 1.1 billion people, including 470 million in rural areas without access to safe food and medicines, and 630 million in hotter, poor urban slums, with little or no cooling to protect them, according to the latest figures released by the United Nations.

At least nine countries, with large populations, face “significant cooling risks”, including India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, China, Mozambique and Sudan.

Rachel Kyte*, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), says that in a world facing continuously rising temperatures, access to cooling is not a luxury.

“It’s essential for everyday life. It guarantees safe cold supply chains for fresh produce, safe storage of life-saving vaccines, and safe work and housing conditions.”

But rising temperatures – made worse by global warming – is not confined only middle income and poorer nations.

In a July 30 piece in the US weekly Time magazine, Justin Worland points out that extreme heat recently melted roads in the UK; hit a record-shattering 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Chino, California; and led more than 70 deaths in Quebec, Canada.

“These cases illustrate a vexing paradox for scientists and policy makers: air conditioning keeps people cool and save lives but is also one of the biggest contributors to global warming.”

Erik Solheim of Norway, executive director the Nairobi-based UN Environment (UNE), is quoted as saying that air-conditioning has been “an enormous, enormous drain on electricity.”

“Cooling is probably the biggest energy consumer, and people tend not to think of it,” said Solheim, a former Chair of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Meanwhile, at one time, there were reports that when middle class families, with rising incomes in India, were able to access TV, air conditioners and refrigerators, there were environmental groups that were critical of this because it would add to global warming.

But the middle class argued this was never an issue when the rich and privileged luxuriated with air conditioners and refrigerators as part of essential living.

Asked for a response, Kyte told IPS: “Sustainable Energy for All believes this is a fundamental issue of equity, as we need to ensure ALL have access to effective solutions. At the same time, we must recognize the needs of our planet and the future of our children.”

She said it has been estimated that cooling is now responsible for 10% of warming and growing rapidly. “So, we need to provide cooling solutions that are clean and sustainable over the long-term.”

She said a new report titled “Chilling Prospects: Providing Sustainable Cooling for All” – released last month– recommends all stakeholders accelerate their innovation efforts and think more holistically about the way we provide cooling, focusing firstly on reducing heat loads and then thinking about how to deliver remaining cooling as affordably and sustainably as possible.

“We’re calling on business and other private sector entities to provide those solutions. These groups have to come together as a matter of priority to provide low Global Warming Potential (GWP) technology and business models that are affordable and sustainable, and that address the needs of the poor and vulnerable populations most at risk, so no one has to make a choice between cooling and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate objectives.”

Asked if air conditioning and global warming are some of the lingering issues of the UN’s global campaign for ”sustainable energy for all”, Kyte told IPS that achieving both equity and sustainability is one of the reasons this new Chilling Prospects report is so timely and important.

“Cooling is not a luxury. It’s a human right and a fundamental issue of equity that underpins the ability of millions to escape poverty and realize the SDG’s’, she noted.

She said the “findings of the report are a wake-up call for us all, and a call-to-action for government policymakers and industry to think and act more systematically about pathways to provide sustainable cooling that will benefit these communities, economies and current and future generations. “

Excerpts from the interview:

IPS: What is the practical answer to the lack of access to cooling in some of the world’s poorest nations where refrigeration and air conditioning are still luxuries?

KYTE: It’s a great question, because practical and sustainable solutions are absolutely crucial to closing gaps in access to cooling, in all countries, but particularly in the developing world.

This new Chilling Prospects: Providing Cooling for All report tackles the challenge from several angles, including through some very practically-focused recommendations.

For example, the report recommends solutions that address consumer finance, which is a critical requirement for selling sustainable cooling solutions to the rural poor; government financing – governments can make direct investment with public bulk procurements to lower cost and improve efficiency; enterprise financing such as fundraising in the off-grid sector and financing for mini-grids; and then there’s donor funding for concessional financing.

Given that products and markets for access to cooling are still poorly defined, grant and highly concessional financing is really important because it can support R&D on innovative technologies, capital for small businesses offering cooling services and financing for low-income consumers.

It’s important to note that while there are major threats to life, health, economies and the climate, there are also huge opportunities in closing cooling access gaps: reducing the number of lost work hours, improving the productivity of the workforce, avoiding costs of healthcare for people with food poisoning or who are suffering because their vaccines weren’t stored properly, increasing the incomes of farmers, and increasing the number of jobs available to service a new cool economy.

IPS: Is there a role for governments to make these affordable to the poor? if so, how?

KYTE: The Chilling Prospects report calls on all stakeholders to embrace a paradigm shift – thinking more holistically about the way we provide cooling – and that definitely includes governments.

On a practical level, the report includes a recommendation that government policymakers should immediately measure gaps in access to cooling in their own countries, as an evidence base for more proactive and integrated policy-making.

More broadly, government policy-makers need to think and act more systematically about pathways to provide sustainable cooling that will benefit communities, economies and current and future generations.

One example noted in the report, is a 2017 program in India administered by EESL, which was a joint venture by the Indian Ministry of Power and Public Service Undertakings (PSUs). They used $68 million in public resources for a competitive procurement of 100,000 room air conditioners at efficiencies better than had generally been available in the market.

More concerted efforts like these, between governments (national and local) and industry are needed to develop and provide cooling solutions that are affordable and sustainable for all.

IPS: In the US, there are public cooling centres for senior citizens when temperatures reach beyond 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit? Are there any such facilities for the poor in any of the developing nations? Or should they?

KYTE: Ahmedabad in India is a very pertinent example cited in the Chilling Prospects report. It was the first city in South-Asia to formulate a Heat Action Plan after a devastating heat wave hit the city in 2010. Local authorities mapped areas with populations at high risk of heat stress—including slums—and developed an easy-to-understand, early-warning system, as well as a strategy for mobilizing the city in advance of impending heat waves. Their plan uses a well-publicized color-coding system to warn citizens at risk of extreme heat to go to emergency cooling centers.

The program has proven its worth. Heat-related casualties in Ahmedabad remained low during a major 2015 heat wave, while thousands tragically died elsewhere across India. Last year, 17 cities and 11 states across India had released or were developing heat action plans.

There are also other simple and cost-effective solutions like white-washing rooves or using solar power to drive fans and create a more comfortable and safe living environment for people living in densely packed slums. We need to scale-up today’s most efficient technologies, power them with renewables, and make them affordable for those that need it most. Governments will play essential roles to address cooling access gaps holistically.

*Rachel Kyte served until December 2015 as World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change, leading the Bank Group’s efforts to campaign for an ambitious agreement at the 21st Convention of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP 21). She was previously World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development and was the International Finance Corporation Vice President for Business Advisory Services.

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44 comments

  1. David

    “Cooling is a Human Right”
    Education is a Human Right
    Medical Care is a Human Right
    Housing is a Human Right
    Food is a Human Right

    whether it is this titled Academic or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, they have, without a doubt, thought thru the end game for all this. The list is endlessly imagined and limitless, easily 100’s of trillions of $$$$ and yet there is no limits to Fun in the form of Recreation or ……Procreation – the source for the obligations. Always the responsibility of third parties not engaged in the FUN.

    why?

    1. James Hollomon

      Yes, yes. There’s always enough money for blowing people up and harvesting OUR resources that somehow got inside their borders. We are forbidden to even ask who’s going to pay for that. But preserving and enriching human life? How are we going to pay for it? No worries, those who profit from plunder can afford all those “luxuries” just fine. The other 98% can just hurry up and die.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        The elephant in the room … there is no social contract. Worst sociological theory of all time. I have never seen this contract, and it never got my signature. And with any contract, if there is a dispute, there has to be some system of resolution or arbitration … otherwise violence.

        Rousseau idealized Native Americans … as people with a social contract who lived close to the natural resources, without a lot of cultural and social development riding on top. Of course, Parisian society had a lot of overhead that needed to be lopped off.

        Well, when we go back to the Neolithic (aka the more advanced Native Americans) then we will get to experience the vision of Rousseau … and Marx. Marx assumed, unlike Rousseau, that you could have this social contract with a high level of industry.

        But Marx was wrong. He assumed that there was a free lunch, courtesy of steam engine era industry. There is a free lunch, in Neolithic culture, provided your population and weather variation doesn’t destroy you first (see Maya).

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Number One human right: To live.

      But not all human rights are not guaranteed, by anyone or anything.

      Not with, say, 8 billion, 15 billion or 40 billion humans – water is not guaranteed, survival is not, etc.

      Nor with non-man-made Global Warming. We can’t shake our little, insignificant fists at the Sun, and demand cooler climate in that case (repeat, of all the cases, we can’t guarantee cooler weather when Global Warming is non-man-made…in that case…repeat…many cases in Nature…she does what she does).

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        And this: What about animals and plants?

        Are the covered under this ‘human right to cooling?’

        I don’t see that in the Ahmedabad or the EESL story.

    3. Chris

      Well, I think your response is typical of a lot of people, but I also believe it’s coming from a position of ignorance about a few key points.

      For example, you can get levels of relative humidity where it becomes impossible for the human body to cool itself naturally. If there’s enough moisture in the air, and the temperature is hot enough, the human body starts to do really badly. You can die.

      So, perhaps we need to be more specific.

      I don’t think anyone is arguing for it to be a human right that everyone in the world gets to set the thermostat at 65 F in the middle of summer. They’re arguing that due to a combination of global warming, poverty, and lack of resource distribution, there’s a large number of poor people who will quite literally die because they can’t keep cool enough. And that when such people do manage to get the resources to use things like AC, they are told they can’t use it because it makes global warming worse. So, maybe everyone has the right to not die in the summer time?

      I’m reminded of Larry Niven’s Ring World engineers who created ways for planets to move on different orbits in order to shed heat more effectively when they became too populous. We need to find some ways of making the people here more comfortable, cheaply, efficiently, without making the planet worse. Planet moving engines are probably out of the question but something needs to be done. Otherwise, the area between the Yucatan and Northern Brazil is likely to become a band of uninhabitable hell which extends around the entire globe.

      All these arguments about cost make it seem like we have an alternative of doing nothing. If you define “We” as the human race, the answer is, no, we don’t. If you define “We” as individual countries, there is the option to do nothing for a period of time until those most effected by the climate choose to move into the regions least effected by it. For people in South America, Central America, Southern and Central Mexico, that place is the USA.

      So…what would you prefer? Try to fix the problem in an equitable way now? Or deal with war, famine, and impossible refugee populations in the not too distant future? How much would all that cost, do you think?

      1. animalogic

        Great comment Chris:
        “All these arguments about cost make it seem like we have an alternative of doing nothing”. And –
        “So…what would you prefer? Try to fix the problem in an equitable way now? Or deal with war, famine, and impossible refugee populations in the not too distant future? How much would all that cost, do you think?”
        We – the planet are in ever deeper shit…but if you live in a first world city it’s still possible to babble about the GW myth….
        While the “myth” attitude persists “costs” can be ignored, denied, quibbled over & so on, just so long as we have no costs NOW.
        Basically, Elites are willing to gamble on GW etc– after all, they’ll be OK, come what may (they think…).

  2. Loneprotester

    You could make a much better case arguing that toilets and basic sanitation was a “human right” than ac. Those are still absent luxuries for 200 million Indians.

    I lived in India for a year. AC is a trap. When it is brutally hot outside you never want to leave the one air conditioned room in the house. Then you get a lung infection from the enormous disparity in temperature and humidity between that room and the world outside. It takes a week and antibiotics to recover. How is this better than the traditional cooling methods of sleeping on the roof in summer, carrying an umbrella for sun protection, and never spending time in the midday sun (unless a mad dog or Englishman)?

    1. Yves Smith

      I was once stuck in an NYC apt (not mine, long story) and the AC crapped out during a hot spell. My host (out of town) did have a super strong fan. Turns out I was more comfortable sleeping with that fan right next to my bed than I had been with the AC. This still takes power but I would assume a fair bit less than AC.

      1. Wukchumni

        If you look @ a map of the population of cities before say 1950, and presently, there are vast areas in the west that were largely unpopulated, pre a/c, in particular Arizona.

        We’ve become a 72 degree population, artificially temperature controlled.

        All of the high heat that’s gonna come with climate change is going to leave yawning gaps in the grid being up, and imagine no a/c, no fans, no nothing.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Isn’t the same true of the deep south? I seem to recall reading once that it was only air con that made large stretches of the south more livable. I think that this region is called the sun belt and a lot of people moved south after air con became more wide spread there.

          1. Disturbed Voter

            AC was a side effect of the South wanting to make its own ice, for cold drinks. Earlier they had to import ice cut from New England ponds in Winter. Also it was originally thought to be a way to cure malaria.

          2. Synoia

            Polio vaccine was also key. The south was a pool of polio.

            The key to not using a/c is to avoid direct sunlight on windows and doors on the south and west sides of the dwelling in the northern hemisphere, and have through breezes through insect screens,

            Homes in the US were builtwithout any regard for the climate.

            1. Wukchumni

              An interesting thing you occasionally see in the Central Valley here, are what are termed ‘cooling towers’.

              These date from around 1900 or so, are typically around 30 feet tall and either next to a house or really close by, and the idea is that the heat goes up to the top of the tower, leaving the lower levels cool.

  3. perpetualWAR

    How about instead of funding our insane war racket, we fund installations of solar panels? My house is a perfect candidate for solar panels, but it is too expensive when I am starting over financially at 56.

    1. Louis Fyne

      I wondered the same thing….

      My understanding is that current solar panels lose efficiency when the temps > 25 Celsius/upper 70’s F. So solar panels are not a panacea in places like the South West.

      And for wind turbines, my understanding is that given seasonal wind patterns, generally prevailing winds are weaker in the summer and wind turbine utilization goes way down compared to, say, spring and fall….which makes sense as spring/fall are when cold-warm temps clash causing the release of lots of energy a-k-a tornadoes and thunderstorms.

      I’m happy if I’m wrong.

      1. Disturbed Voter

        The first goal is to have an energy efficient dwelling, that takes advantage of the local climate, rather than having an inefficient dwelling, that maintains an artificial atmosphere. We could have had this in the 80s, but people want their McMansions instead … and regular power provided by grid, not variable power provided by sun and wind.

  4. Bruce Maine

    Even though the report calls for ‘low Global Warming Potential (GWP) technology” to achieve the goals it’s still likely the burning of more fossil fuels will dominate the “Air Conditioning For All” initiative. There are many architectural, engineering and urban design practices that can and are being applied to address the cooling issue with minimal economic impacts. The same is true for sanitation.

  5. Carolinian

    How about trees and thick walls? Masonry and oak trees permit only intermittent AC use here in the 90 degree south. Of course keeping away the sun isn’t going to help much with the humidity, but when you grow up here you sort of get used to it. Northerners find it heavy going.

    Refrigeration can be a big power suck. When I long ago traveled across France many small country stores didn’t even use it. I drank a lot of UHT milk.

    1. Louis Fyne

      that costs money and affects profit margins. Developers like wood frame houses cuz it’s cheap(er) and easy.

      and home buyers aren’t demanding energy efficiency as a must-have feature

  6. The Rev Kev

    What seems to be missing from this article is discussion about building homes so that they need little, if any cooling fans rather than relying on powered solutions. I am not saying that we should be sitting around pulling on ropes attached to punkah fans but there are a ton of traditional building techniques for living in hot climates already out there. Aren’t there plenty of old homes in south-western United States built with very thick adobe walls and tile floors as an example? And if we really screw up our weather patterns, it may be a matter of a lot of places having to go underground as it is a constant temperature there. There is a place called Coober Pedy in outback Australia where the miners did this with amazing results-

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=coober+pedy+underground+homes&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjPgJij1ufcAhUa9rwKHbknB8sQsAR6BAgAEAE&biw=1600&bih=754

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Agree that energy conservation is key. Ideally combined with or as a natural consequence of significant population reduction and major change/reduction in consumption patterns/ideology. To achieve just the housing part of that here in the North East without technology, however, would either require major change in life style (including population density) or a prohibitive budget.

      People around the world have found many ingenious traditional ways of heating and cooling but particularly heating using these techniques often requires a smallish population for a given area.

      If I could have my druthers -here in New England- in today’s conditions with technology that scales fairly well, I’d have a super insulated wood frame house with a high efficiency heat pump and closed cycle refrigerant run by solar for what ever heat and cooling would be necessary complemented by an air handler with heat exchange to replace stale air. Energy to run fans for all this is not that much and should be quite do-able by solar. Wood burning stove for emergency back-up. It would be nice to go entirely off the grid if that were possible. Hot water by solar thermal collector. Even if the solar panels and/or heat pump became unavailable in 30 years, rigid closed cell foam would retain most of it’s insulation value for convection (the stack effect in particular), radiation and conductivity. The expense for all this, however, is still prohibitive for most people including me. Retro-fitting a house even more so depending on the house and location.

      1. earthling1

        I installed a geo-thermo hvac system where it utilizes the constant 55 degree temp underground. The piping is buried 6 ft. down and 400 ft long and keep my 1700 sq. ft. stick-built house cooled and heated using 44% less energy than my old heat pump system.
        The $7500 Federal Tax Credit was a big incentive.
        So, it can be done.
        I also removed the old asphalt driveway and installed a bright white concrete drive reflecting more sunlight back off planet.
        My next project is to replace my asphalt shingle roof with aluminum sheeting painted white.
        I understand not everyone can afford to do these things, but the technology is here.
        All new homes should be required to have deeper more expansive basements with geo-thermo systems installed underneath.
        With modern heat exchanger technology, everyone should be using the natural constant temp. of the earth for all their heating and cooling needs.

          1. earthling1

            Thanks for the tip and link, rev kev. Existing roof has a couple of years left, Will start shopping next spring.
            Not sure how steel will stand up (rust) here in the PNW. Lotta rain here.
            But will check it out, thanks again.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Troglodytes or cave/underground dwellers:

    1. Guadix, spain
    2. Cappadocia, Turkey
    3. Yan’an, China, (birthplace of Chinese Communism, sort of…endpoint of the Long March)
    4. Matmata, Tunisia (Star Wars, Luke’s uncle’s home)
    5. Roman underground homes in Bulla Regia, Tunisia

    Plus many others.

    1. Katsue

      Mughal-era Delhi is another place where people had houses and places of business that were at least partially underground to avoid the afternoon heat before the British sacked the city in 1857.

  8. polecat

    See, this is where sane, practical federal regulation is in order .. putting through the needed changes in building codes to force changes in how, and in what kind of techniques and designs be instituted to eliminate much of the energy consumption endemic to residential homes. Passive solar residential design works ! .. but changes need to be forced onto communities, and the building and construction trades, to steam roll these changes. The same applies to indoor waste plumbing e.i. composting toilets and greywater systems, which would go a long way towards alleviating much wastage of precious water resources. Instead, we have a constant stream of cronies, masquerading as “regulators” … doing the bidding of Big Finance and the ever-conservative Big Building/Construction trades lobby .. because $$$ over common sense !

  9. John Wright

    I clicked through and downloaded the report.

    The report has a cover “Sustainable energy for all”, which made me skeptical.

    And on page 5, there is the assumption that populations will continue to grow..

    “But, most importantly, it shows that as populations grow and temperatures reach new records, the health and economic risks associated with a lack of access to sustainable cooling is higher than ever before.”

    On page 15 is this quote, one that appears to acknowledge the demand for cooling for all is fraught with the conflict that this demand not contribute to climate change.

    “The report shows that there is a need to think more holistically. As a general principle, this calls for cooling and energy demand reduction measures to be applied first, with the remaining cooling needs met through technical solutions that minimize adverse and maximize beneficial environmental and socioeconomic impacts. This means deploying the most efficient current technology as well as developing new, innovative, efficient solutions for those most in need. This will require new business models, training of a new workforce, and collaboration across government, industry, finance, and civil society.”

    In recent history has the world ever had a period of net “energy demand reduction”?

    This is certainly a human-centric view of cooling for all, as it neglects to mention all the wildlife and animals that will be outside these cooled zones.

    The fundamental problem is the world is warming up, I believe with human assistance, and trying to compensate for this by introducing energy intensive cooling methods will likely make the underlying problem worse.

    For those who advocate for this sort of adaptation, the question should not be “show me the money” but “show me the scalable source of energy” that will not make climate change even worse.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What does it profit Man to gain cooling for the whole species, but lose his own sources of meat, fruits and vegetables, and animal/plant companions?

    2. knowbuddhau

      You’re both onto something: it’s our relationship with Nature that’s the problem.

      Too many people think it absolutely Other than themselves. And Marketeers act as if caring for what amount to our external organs was some sort of silly, even costly (gasp!) affectation of “bleeding hearts” who “don’t know how the world really works.” Oh really?

      Look how much trouble space programs have to go to to simulate them. And, shocker alert, turns out, being off Earth isn’t all that good for human bodies.

      I’m old enough to remember quite a lot of talk about the “conquest of space” and the “conquest of Nature.” How’s that working out?

      Going down the fossil fuel path has led us out onto the very end of a very long, thin branch. You’d think there’d be hope in the growing apical meristem, but no, we’ve been forcing it so long it’s dead, Jim. In fact, looking back, the tree is rejecting all our implants.

      Now we have so many people where people can’t really live, we have to do something, or stop calling ourselves human. Here’s the tricky part.

      We can’t keep getting it wrong and then brute-forcing Mother into submission. You know, I’ve actually read such absurdities as, “The environment is out of control!” When, pray tell, was it in?

      Until we care for the world around us as our very own external organs, not some mechanism we master with our ever so advanced tecnology, we’ll keep on acting like Edward Scissorhands with a bad rash.

      And it’s not such a wild idea. There’s quite a lot of historical evidence, and even present-tense precedent, for living in nature, not absolutely Othering it and then forever fighting it across an illusory great divide.

      IMNSHO, the reason European explorers found such remarkable abundance was because of the kinship between the peoples and the lands. We think we’re supernatural, or at the very least, extranatural spirits that somehow manipulate a mechanism outside of and absolutely other than our selves. Like Edward Scissorhands with a bad rash, all we do in this outdated and discredited worldview amounts to so much self-harm.

      The question you raise, MLTPB, is something I think about a lot, only not in those terms. Seems to me we’ve crossed a great many thresholds of utility regarding our many ways of making Mother Nature our bitch. And now, the Bitch is back.

      What are we gonna do, double down some more? Fun fact: In many a statue of Kali, she’s shown with a garland of skulls, licking her lips at the site of all those gushers of blood. Choose wisely.

      1. earthling1

        Completely agree. The Native Americans lived in harmony with the earth. At one time the population of the Americas exceeded the rest of the planet combined, and they did it sustainably, even without the wheel ( they had no draft animals).
        Fun fact; Columbus stumbled upon the Garden of Eden, and was too stupid to realize it.

      2. earthling1

        Completely agree, knowbuddhau.
        The American Indians lived in harmony with the Earth. At one time they numbered in the millions, more than the rest of the planet combined. And they didn’t even have the wheel ( there were no draft animals).
        Fun fact; Columbus stumbled upon the Garden of Eden and was too stupid to realize it.

  10. bassmule

    I read this differently. AC for All is almost certainly not possible, for all the reasons mentioned. So it will not happen. What will happen is more likely to be many hundreds of millions of poor humans dying of the heat. Which will make all of us here in the North very sad, but also glad it wasn’t us. See also Elias Canetti, The Survivor:

    “The moment of survival is the moment of power. Horror at the sight of death turns into satisfaction that it is someone else who is dead. The dead man lies on the ground while the survivor stands. It is as though there had been a fight and the one had struck down the other. In survival, each man is the enemy of the other, and all grief is insignificant measured against this elemental triumph.”

    The Survivor Crowds and Power.

    1. knowbuddhau

      Yeah, sounds about right. For a sociopath. Or a post-Apocalyptic screenplay pitch. Then there’s the much more widely known https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivor_guilt

      I got a bit into it. Sounds like a bunch of projection. He jumps right in, saying “he, the survivor,” over and over, without bothering to introduce us. How rude.

      MAN’S BODY (sic) is naked and vulnerable, exposed in its softness to every assault. With care and cunning, he may be able to fend off things which come near, but it is easy to reach him from a distance; spears and arrows can transfix him. He has invented shields and armour, and built walls and whole fortresses round himself; what he most desires from all these precautions is a feeling of invulnerability.

      Where there you have it: it’s not “man’s” home that is “his” castle (in keeping with the anachronistic style), it’s “man himself” that is the castle!

      Sounds a bit disembodied to me. In fact, downright anti-Natural. Is that any way to go through life? It doesn’t even begin to describe an actual human in an actual environment. Sounds like someone’s got vulnerability issues and is going to superloquacious lengths to dress his walling himself off as no, really, a brilliant and even powerful thing to do.

      Pass.

  11. Tomonthebeach

    Surely the pronouncement that air conditioning is now a human right signals an investment opportunity in Carrier and Trane. Of course, that depends on how long it will take for the world to take such a pronouncement seriously.

    Some of us were born B.AC. – before air conditioning. Windows remained open 24/7. Fans buzzed. People drove with the windows rolled down and kids stuck their heads out of those windows until chastised for being unsafe. In summer, kids found creeks, rivers, ponds and pools in which to wallow. We moved the TV to the back porch, and barbecued so mamma did not have to use the hot kitchen. Saturdays were spent at the Bijou – the only building in town with air conditioning. In all that, it is curious that it never dawned on anybody to demand our human right to A/C.

    We currently live in coastal Florida 9 months out of the 12. We used to summer in our place in Bulgaria until the summer of 2017 when temps popped over 100f for days on end, causing us to flee to the mountains. We came in Spring this year because we were only able to find one company that would even give us an estimate on central A/C for our 1,400 sqft abode – $14,000 Euros. For that I can air condition five or six houses that big in the US. So if the UN is serious about air conditioning the world, they might try to find out why it is so costly in poor countries.

  12. vlade

    Uh oh. 2nd law of theromodynamics, anyone?

    Cooling reduces enthropy – but it has to go somewhere (and for the purpose of this exercise, we can consider a human settlement as semi-closed).

    Rise of AC in the cities/dense human settlements in general means that the _outside_ in the cities gets worse, with the heat being dumped from the apartments/offices/shops/whatever outside. Oh, and also the heat generated by the process of reducing enthropy, so, overall, yet more heat goes out.

    So yes, cooling, but maybe in the good ole way (shades, white reflective building surfaces, greenery where possible etc. etc.)

  13. Luke

    Re the Americas before Columbus opened up modernization:
    actually, the aborigines* DID have draft animals.** They had horses that they’d previously hunted into extinction, apparently not being astute enough to realize that horses could be useful for something besides food. So much for “living in harmony (includes UNDERSTANDING) with their environment”.

    *Not indigenous, since no humans evolved in the Western Hemisphere, all immigrating from elsewhere.

    **I’m not counting llamas, about which I know little besides their max carry weight of perhaps 100 pounds.

    1. Raulbe

      This a rather vulgar revisionist reading of history. Columbus didn’t open up ‘modernization’, he opened up genocide, slavery, loot and plunder of their countries from which they have still not recovered.

      Its also interesting how its the victims who are seen as ‘unmodern’ and savage while the barbaric savagery of the invaders is now reinterpreted as ‘modernism’. This is a kind of sickness, and this complete lack of empathy for other human beings can only be explained by racism.

      There is a concept of native people and lands we can’t wish away, we can’t for instance eject the germans and english from their lands on your specious self serving logic.

      There was nothing modern in 1600 unless you count feudalism, slavery, serfdom and medieval culture as ‘modern’. And entire species were hunted to extinction in Europe just like everywhere else – humans are stupid, but let’s just ignore these inconvenient facts to make this grand narrative of conquest and supremacism work.

  14. Luke

    Raulbe, “genocide, slavery, loot and plunder” were what the American aborigines constantly were doing to each other, long before 1492. They took prisoners in war mainly for entertainment value by torturing them to death, rape, and slavery. There are numerous tribes that were entirely wiped out by other tribes over premodern centuries. European colonization was no change for the worse in that respect.

    Re “wiping them out”? Liberalpedia shows the population of Latin America (which is genetically predominantly aboriginal) having climbed from about 37 million in 1500 to close to 600 million today, hardly “wiping them out”. In North America, one estimate had them at under 1.9 million in 1500, with their numbers over 2.5 million today. Again, hardly “wiping them out”.

    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/ajpa.1330770302

    1. Raulbe

      Your earlier comment was about ‘Columbus opened up modernization’. When pointed out savagery, genocide, slavery and plunder is not ‘modernization’ your response is to point to tribal warfare of the native populations?

      Since tribal warfare was not unique to native americans and a common occurrence in all human populations at that time this is a desperate attempt to to dehumanize others purely to evade and shift accountability for ones own barbaric behavior.

      What you are saying is because of european wars its ok for me to invade their countries, commit genocide, enslave them and steal their land and history will judge me as a ‘civilized liberator’. Only if I write it. This is even more morally offensive than the actual genocide, slavery and plunder because 400 years later it attempts to justify it.

      Its interesting that those who use this line of logic judge ‘others’ harshly and look at their own exact same tribal behavior as ‘civilized’. Its this strange dissonance that allows one to view others’ wars and culture as barbaric and backward and european barbarism in these countries as ‘modernism’, hence the first comment.

      Your grasp of history is extremely slight on what actually happened to indigenous populations and we have not even touched the ethical problems of colonization and slavery, so this ‘modernism civilization’ self glorification narrative is a vulgar fabrication of history and ethics.

      https://www.history.com/news/native-americans-genocide-united-states

      http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v9/9.11/1columbus.html

      https://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-kasum/columbus-day-a-bad-idea_b_742708.html

  15. Luke

    Ok, Raulbe, let’s talk about slavery. It existed long before Western civilization, essentially worldwide, in all races. Westerners were the first to end it in their own lands, and put as much as possible of the rest of the world under pressure to end it. From the British Empire in the early 1800s seizing slave trading ships to the U.S. pressuring Saudi Arabia in the 1960s to end formal slavery there, there is a consistent history over centuries of ONLY Westerners saying about slavery “this is wrong and has to stop”.

    Throw in that what, over 90% of Negros brought to the New World for slavery went to Latin America (which to this day are majority nonwhite countries, so guess who runs them), American aborigines practicing slavery on a per-capita basis far beyond what whites in the U.S. did, and Negro slaves having increased their numbers during the period of time they were in captivity in the U.S., and your point on slavery is what, exactly?

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