Remembering a story I did 30 years ago about how bottled water is much less regulated than the water out of our taps – and is sometimes that very same tap water put in a bottle * – I felt a little like a chump. But off I went, comforted that I had water at the ready if I needed it.
It’s how I feel about air conditioning. For 25 years we’ve been putting a room AC unit in my study, just so it would be there for the few days every summer when I actually used it. Mostly I rely on fans, which we have scattered throughout the house. They are a true lifesaver, draw a lot less energy than AC and thus contribute less to the warming of the planet that will make people feel even more that they need AC (unless they’re powered by renewables, in which case they are a guilt-free pleasure).
This is true on a global scale, and I wish every person on the planet who must live in a hot climate could have access to at least a fan.
It’s about 95 degrees as I write, with humidity to match. I biked this morning to do a little food shopping, and it was bearable. Now it’s not. So I’m hunkered down at home until the yard is in shade, so I can do a little weeding in my garden. The saying “Everything’s relative” certainly applies to heat. My air-conditioned room feels comfortable compared to the upstairs, which is probably 15 degrees hotter. But if I venture outside and then come back in, it feels too cold.
My daughter and her family just spent a week in Paris during a heat wave where the temps topped 100 degrees. They had no AC in their rented house, but she didn’t mind at all. They used fans. There’s still very little AC anywhere in Paris – so much so that any establishment that has it advertises it. There was a three-week European heat wave in 2003 that killed 70,000 people, including 15,000 in France. That is incredible. This one was much shorter and also occurred in late June, not August, when the French go on vacation and leave their elders at home, who died in droves.
It’s tempting, with the climate crisis, to call this the new normal, but the “new normal” is a moving target, where normal means hotter and hotter unless we humans can motivate enough of us to take the steps needed to rein it in. More trees would be a good start.
* Of course, Dasani is a Coca-Cola product, and OMG, I just looked it up and Wikipedia tells me it is bottled tap water, just filtered through reverse osmosis. Which also means Coke is exploiting the municipal water supplies of cities all over the world. Why would millions of U.S. Americans pay $2.50 a bottle for something that they could get almost free? That is also incredible. And then way too often toss out the plastic bottle. It’s got to be the best marketing scam ever.