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The World Wants Air-Conditioning. That Could Warm the World

May 15, 2018

By Paul Homewood



h/t Robin Guenier


How dare they?


From the NYT:



More than crickets and fireflies, more than baseball and cookouts, perhaps nothing signals the arrival of summer in the United States like the soft familiar whir of air-conditioning.

But there is growing concern that as other countries adopt America’s love of air-conditioners, the electricity used to power them will overburden electrical grids and increase planet-warming emissions.

The number of air-conditioners worldwide is predicted to soar from 1.6 billion units today to 5.6 billion units by midcentury, according to a report issued Tuesday by the International Energy Agency. If left unchecked, by 2050 air-conditioners would use as much electricity as China does for all activities today.

Greenhouse gas emissions released by coal and natural gas plants when generating electricity to power those air-conditioners would nearly double, from 1.25 billion tons in 2016 to 2.28 billion tons in 2050, the report says. Those emissions would contribute to global warming, which could further heighten the demand for air-conditioning.

Right now air-conditioning is concentrated in a handful of countries, mainly in the United States and Japan, and increasingly in China.

While 90 percent of American households have air-conditioning, “When we look in fact at the hot countries in the world, in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, where about 2.8 billion people live, only about 8 percent of the population owns an air-conditioner,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the energy agency.

As incomes in those countries rise, however, more people are installing air-conditioners in their homes. The energy agency predicts much of the growth in air-conditioning will occur in India, China and Indonesia.


I mean, I’m just gobsmacked!! What on earth gives these poor people the right to demand air conditioning? What will they be wanting next?

  1. Joe Public permalink
    May 15, 2018 4:40 pm

    Perhaps California’s governor should insist that only those with solar panels be allowed to have air-con?

    The generation/demand profile is as good as it gets.

    In other news, the SNP to also consider such a policy.

  2. Ian Magness permalink
    May 15, 2018 5:10 pm

    “there is growing concern that as other countries adopt America’s love of air-conditioners, the electricity used to power them will overburden electrical grids and increase planet-warming emissions”
    Yes, and just imagine what all those people will also want, even before they have aircon – yes, cars which will have to be EVs in our green utopia. “Carbon” emissions from the electricity required to power billions of cars compared to billions of aircon units?
    Oh my god we’re all doomed!

  3. Robin Guenier permalink
    May 15, 2018 5:24 pm

    Here’s a link to the referenced IEA report, “The Future of Cooling“:

    Describing it as “one of the most critical blind spots in today’s energy debate”, the report says: “Without action to address energy efficiency, energy demand for space cooling will more than triple by 2050 – <g<consuming as much electricity as all of China and India today.” (My emphasis) OMG, we really are all doomed – and it’s all because of those dreadful poor people.

    • Robin Guenier permalink
      May 15, 2018 5:25 pm

      Apologies for the typing error.

  4. dave permalink
    May 15, 2018 5:24 pm

    “What will these people be wanting next?”

    To ignore Western fools? Oh, wait, they do ignore them.

  5. May 15, 2018 5:27 pm

    Fortunately the Earth has its own air conditioning system. It’s called the Rankine Cycle and the clouds and rain prove it.

    • dave permalink
      May 15, 2018 6:01 pm

      I imagine that the world’s poor will use their access to cheap(ish) electricity first to install things like fans in the attic. They will not go straight to the full air-conditioning that Al Gore and Hollywood Luvies adore.

      When it is a zero-news day and the propaganda machine wants to install a few maggots into people’s brains they will often use the introductory phrase “Concern is rising…” It is a dead give-away that what follows will be total b/s.

      • May 16, 2018 11:19 am

        On the same token, we now get headlines the ‘concern is growing that such & such a creature might become an endangered species’!

  6. Sandy permalink
    May 15, 2018 5:36 pm

    I have good friends who came to the USA as refugees from Vietnam after the war. The first time they took their American-born kids to visit Vietnam they stayed with an aunt who was one of the few with AC at that time. The kids who were about 7 or 8 then said “inside auntie’s house is America, outside is Vietnam.”

    God bless air conditioning!

  7. ronhave permalink
    May 15, 2018 7:34 pm

    The long term answer is obvious: atomic power, safe, plentiful, endless supply, no emissions.

    • tom0mason permalink
      May 16, 2018 7:39 am


  8. Jack Broughton permalink
    May 15, 2018 7:41 pm

    I remember about 10 years ago I stayed in Jakarta for a few weeks. The office blocks were actually so cold that one needed a coat while outside was over 30C and humid. This was widespread and there seemed to be no control over the A/C units just flat-out.
    The future A/C load is likely to be much higher than it needs to be even as people in hot climates want more cooling than Europeans expect: the equivalent of overheating our houses in cold weather for added comfort.

    • Dave Ward permalink
      May 16, 2018 11:14 am

      That brings back memories of arriving in Singapore in 1996 – I stepped off an air conditioned Jumbo into one of the moveable corridors, and was hit by the heat and humidity. Then straight into the (then brand new) terminal building, which was air conditioned. After going through the usual formalities I was feeling quite comfortable, but then I had to meet a coach for transfer to my accommodation. Once more it was a real shock to step outside into stifling heat and humidity (even at 10PM), then back into an air conditioned vehicle. 10 minutes later the same again when I arrived at the hotel. The 2 days I spent there were a constant roller coaster of heat & humidity versus dry & cold! The tourist coaches had separate 2 cylinder diesel engines driving the aircon, and these were left running all day. It was quite normal to see a small lake of water underneath, when returning…

  9. May 15, 2018 8:06 pm

    The World Wants Air-Conditioning. That Could Warm the World

    And the warmer the world, the more air-con is needed/wanted — a positive feedback loop. If the electricity supply allows it…

  10. May 15, 2018 8:09 pm

    My family found it impossible to live in the USA during summer without air-con.

    It has to be noted that the article is in the NYT, one of the US equivalents of the Grauniad.

  11. Roger Graves permalink
    May 15, 2018 8:30 pm

    Air conditioning was probably one of the factors, if not the most important factor, that propelled the US South to be the industrial and financial powerhouse it is today. I’ve been in Houston in the summer. Just standing still in the shade makes you sweat, let alone carrying out any activity.

    I believe it was General Phil Sheridan of Civil War fame who said “If I owned both Texas and Hell, I’d rent out Texas and live in Hell”, which gives you a pretty good idea of what they thought of the climate back then.

    Given enough money, you can devise low-carbon energy systems such as atomic power, if low carbon is your thing. (Personally, I think we live in a severely CO2-impoverished atmosphere, but that’s another story.) Without air conditioning it’s difficult to make a lot of money, because it’s just too darned hot to do anything. Air conditioning is the road to a low carbon future, not the cause of it.

  12. Charles Wardrop, permalink
    May 15, 2018 9:32 pm

    Those who have visited, or lived in, say, Singapore (outdoors) will be v impressed by its history, pre aircon, of such enterprising people building it up, despite the warm, humid atmosphere!
    How these pioneers did that, I’ll never know.
    Maybe they were more determined, oblivious to the sweaty, enervating conditions?

    • dave permalink
      May 16, 2018 7:09 am

      A century ago, Ellsworth Huntington, Professor of Geography at Yale University, found “an apparent connection between a stimulating climate and high civilization.”

      Humans are adapted to a particular physical environment and when we move away into another area, we must take our former environment with us, in some way.

      If the basic idea of climate as a well-spring of civilization is sound, it follows that creating an internal replica of a good climate, where it does not occur naturally, must be of the utmost importance to comfort and progress. Of course, there are benefits and drawbacks to any move away from “natural living.” But it is 10,000 years too late to change the overall direction!

    • Joe Public permalink
      May 16, 2018 10:43 am

      Singaporeans are aware of the Lapse Rate:

      A few Londoners realise going to the top of Big Ben, the temperature is approx 1℃ cooler than at its bottom.

  13. May 15, 2018 11:12 pm

    The UHI from AC’s can be very high, I worked in Kuwait for 7 years, travelling from outside into the city you could actually feel the temperature rise the nearer you got.

  14. Duker permalink
    May 15, 2018 11:14 pm

    A/C has moved on from the old days , now its a heat pump system which can heat in winter and cool in summer. Its actually a very efficent system and saves energy costs as you can get your heating /cooling using 1/3 of the power for the output produced.
    In my country theres heat pumps soley for hot water as well and swimming pools.

    • dave permalink
      May 16, 2018 7:12 am

      I have seen many advertisements for inexpensive, unobtrusive, solar-powered, attic fans.

  15. CheshireRed permalink
    May 16, 2018 7:14 am

    Quick heads-up for a new BBC R4 series I heard trailered this morning. ‘Climate Change and me’, coming soon at 9:45 for 4 episodes. (If I recall correctly; was half asleep when I heard it) Lots of hysteria about thin ice, weather, you name it. Will need fact-checking!

  16. Athelstan permalink
    May 16, 2018 7:19 am



    Generating electricity in the UK, heating a home with gas is, the idea being to make it so expensive, so that warming a house is beyond the budgets of the average consumer, if that’s the idea, then HMG is going about it very, zealously so and effectively. We can’t thank them enough, how wonderful is it?

    Plentiful supply and cheap energy, heaven forfend it, pah! the very thought, who ever had that stupid idea?

    • Russ Wood permalink
      May 17, 2018 4:02 pm

      But didn’t you know that Ehrlich apparently said something like “Giving the world cheap power is like giving a live hand-grenade to a toddler”.

  17. Silver Dynamite permalink
    May 16, 2018 9:14 am

    The Left want the “working class” (horrible inexact term) to stay poor and angry, and cold and hot. They can then bribe them with meagre handouts that keep them as clients.
    In the US and to a lesser extent in the UK, poorer people are waking up to their deceit.

  18. May 16, 2018 1:07 pm

    I visited Thailand in 1968. Yikes!! The hotel had AC as did my aunt and uncle’s apartment. He was setting up a medical library for a Bangkok university at the time.

    Then I worked in Washington, DC. Another “yikes.” You just didn’t move w/o AC in that city.

    When I moved back to the home in Morgantown, WV where I grew up and now own, to care for my mother, I requested AC. It is an old farmhouse from the 1880’s. In the summer, books would mildew. We frequently have thunderstorms which just arise. So, we closed windows when leaving for a few hours. I remember box fans in the windows. We do not have a lot of duct work through the house. My brother, however, told the installers to put it in the storage room in the attic as the AC could be run to all of the bedrooms on the second floor through the closets. The flow of cool air down the 2 sets of stairs allows a ceiling fan in the breakfast room and a pedestal fan in an addition to keep the house cool and dry.

    Sorry, if I have wounded the sensibilities of the totally nonsensical, NYT. Actually, I am not one bit sorry that the fake news purveyor, known as “the paper of record” disagrees with me. They are more the “paper of toilet” than the “paper of record.”

  19. donald penman permalink
    May 16, 2018 3:55 pm

    I have just spent £75 installing a ceiling fan in my third floor council flat with a flat roof, every summer I have lived here it gets unbearably warm particularly at night today it is cool. I need to sort out the double glazing next to stop my flat getting unbearably cold in the winter there are gaps in my windows which insects get through I have condensation inside my windows in winter these windows were rubbish when they were fitted, they were not worth fitting.

  20. May 17, 2018 10:11 am

    Didn,t the Spanish have a siesta in the afternoon hours and work again in late afternoon and evening ? Even in the 1950,s I remember the crowds of people in the evening on Las Ramblas in Barcelona where the weather was not as hot as Southern Spain. They had ceiling fans in bedrooms and venetian blinds for the siesta. It is possible to adapt to climate. Though of course ,Mad Dogs and Englishmen go out in the Midday Sun, (Noel Coward)

    • Duker permalink
      May 18, 2018 2:50 am

      Part of Spains problem is its in central European Time rather than the GMT which Portugal, UK and Ireland have.

    • dave permalink
      May 18, 2018 7:10 am


      When the Peeping-Toms are active:

  21. Broadlands permalink
    May 22, 2018 4:06 pm

    And in the news recently, somebody has been making CFCs illegally and releasing them to the atmosphere… instead of using them for air-conditioning? How stupid is that? The worry now? Bring back the danger that the ozone layer will again be depleted…back to what is was in the 1960s? So, now we have CO2 and CFCs to both “capture and store”? And permafrost methane as well? We will be very busy.

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