I've run the "Mothership" around here for years, and have lived through a litany of complaints from my kids about the rising heat and the need for air conditioning.
"Why don't we put in a pool like Rebecca's family?" Not.
"It's too hot to go out, we'll just watch TV all day." Not.
"We can't sleep upstairs, the walls are melting. We're sleeping downstairs on the couch." OK.
And like all parents, I pulled the generational "before you were born" thing with my kids:
"When we were young, we ran through the sprinkler...A little sweat didn't kill us...Have you ever heard of a fan?"
Then came my final stand, "Did you know, Americans use twice as much energy air-conditioning our homes than we did 20 years ago... and more than the rest of the world's nations combined?"
Although I live in what is considered to be a cooler Northeast climate, the rising temperature in my neck of the woods has left me sweltering.
I threw eco-caution to the wind and started my own winey campaign to bring air conditioning into my home. Come hell or high water, and both seemed to be happening, I needed cool air to think straight. I tried rationalizing my case to my ultra-conservationist husband.
Me: "Do you know how much extra laundry I'm doing cleaning sweat-soaked sheets, tee-shirts and towels? Running the dryer day and night will kill the environment. An air conditioner could help!"
Husband: "You're exaggerating, my dear. And the electricity generated to power air conditioning carries a larger environmental consequence. In burning fossil fuels such as coal and gas to supply electricity to homes and workplaces, power plants discharge clouds of soot and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Among these are mercury and carbon dioxide. Did you know air conditioner use in the U.S. results in an average of about 100 million tons of CO2 emissions from power plants every year ? Also, you emailed me this blog post, 10 Design Tips To Help You Live Without (Or Use Less) Air Conditioning"
Me: "Pleeeze, don't throw posts back at me, I'm a blogger. Bloggers can make anything sound sexy. I can't work. My keyboard is damp... sticky. I'm sure the Apple manual clearly states, moisture on the keyboard will not be covered under warranty."
Husband: "Don't you dare get the keyboards wet just to prove a point. Air conditioning is a twisted way to stay cool. If you want to stop warming the planet why would you want artificial cooling? There's nothing natural about that."
At this point, guilt got the better of me and I gave up, realizing it was just too damn hot to bicker.
Then it happened. After hours of pushing a hand mower (4 acres of grass and no riding mower -- of course) in the latest brutal heat wave, my sweet husband's defensive brain fried, and he ran to the hardware store and bought one of those portable air conditioners.
Kidding aside, in the age of climate change, can we possibly put air conditioners into the deep freeze? Probably not. My family held out as long as we could, but bucking a culture that is not making the connection that what we're sending up into our atmosphere is reigning down on us in the form of hot and hazardous weather, is a daunting prospect. But if we adjust our ethos, and take serious measures to power our homes (and air conditioners), using clean renewable energy -- wind and solar, and stand with President Obama's ambitious climate action plan to stop global warming, we have a fighting chance.
Will our leaders compromise and put an end to the warming trend? Or will our kids have to sweat it out hugging air conditioners instead of trees?
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