What did I JUST say in the last post about air-con?

I love the comfort of air-conditioning. But I wouldn’t want my life to depend on it. News just in from Canada’s heat-wave:

The devastating “heat dome” has caused temperatures to rise to almost 50C in Canada and has been linked to hundreds of deaths, melted power lines, buckled roads and wildfires.

Melted power lines cannot be conducive to the old ‘air-conditioning has saved us from climate mega-heatwaves’ meme.

Note that this isn’t even a region at risk of deadly wet-bulb heatwaves. This is just a climate induced super-heatwave – lethal only to some of the elderly and fragile. It won’t kill everyone in a given region – it will just massively increase the fatality rate from extreme weather events. But this is not a city-killer, “just” a GDP reducer (shock, no, horror, think of the bottom line!)

It’s even hit the USA.

The US National Weather Service said the peak in the region was 42.2 C on Tuesday in Spokane, Washington, another local record. About 9,300 homes lost power and the local utility Avista Utilities said planned blackouts would be needed, affecting more than 200,000 people.

So 200,000 people will be inconvenienced for a few days. Imagine if that were a wet-bulb heatwave? Those 200,000 would be dead.

Yet Mr Apocalypse Never (Shellenberger) says air-con is the answer to heatwaves? Maybe, while he is at it, he can describe how to convert every home into a hobbit-hole so we have some thermal mass cooling just in case the power goes out? You know – because Shellenberger is so convinced that 4 degrees of warming just isn’t a problem. Yeah, hobbit living for everyone – as a backup for a fragile power grid dealing with a 4 degree world – might just stop 20 million people dying in India’s first real wet-bulb heatwave. (As estimated by Kim Stanley Robinson’s novel The Ministry for the future – first chapter free at link). While I love the idea, how are we going to afford this soon enough?

Or we could just stop the world hitting 4 degrees!

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