Air Conditioning Installation Tipp City – This is happening. Every summer, unprecedented heat waves sweep through cities across the United States—Washington, Oregon, and Idaho; Illinois, Indiana and Ohio; and in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. Last week, a heatwave broke records in Texas by consistently climbing into the hundreds for several days. And just when residents need it most, the power grid fails. Each year in the United States, hundreds of people die from heat-related illnesses, and thousands end up in emergency rooms due to heat stress. Compared to other climate-related disasters, the response of US leaders to extreme heat was minimal. As a result, many areas remain unimproved. So how can we make our cities more resilient?
The problem of urban heat is not limited to North America, however. Extreme heat kills more people than any other climate disaster on earth, including hurricanes, floods and wildfires. In the UK, temperatures hit 104ºF for the first time in recorded history, with the heat fueling wildfires across Europe. In India, cities that have been inhabited for centuries are now uninhabitable with temperatures reaching 123ºF. And climate change, driven primarily by carbon emissions from developed countries, is making matters worse. Heat waves are becoming hotter, more frequent and longer. Currently, 2.2 billion people – or 30% of the world’s population – experience life-threatening heat waves at least 20 days a year, and scientists predict that up to 66% of people’s lives could be affected by heat waves by the end of this century. Unlike cinematic violence, heat is invisible, even if it is direct and wide. It also makes him more dangerous. Nothing but a drastic reduction in fossil fuels will slow this trend.
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Most of us living in the US think we have the ultimate solution to this sorcery: air conditioning. The United States uses more cooling energy per capita than any other country in the world. In 2016, 328 million Americans – or less than 5% of the world’s population – used more energy to cool more than 4.4 billion people living across Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia, excluding China. . (Case in point: More than half of the world’s refrigeration emissions now come from China and the US combined.) By comparison, the US uses nearly as much energy in refrigeration as Africa’s 1.2 billion people use every year. Throughout the world, the demand for cooling is growing rapidly and continues to grow in the United States, where it is already ubiquitous. Today, 88% of US households use some form of air conditioning compared to 4% of European households. As the summer heats up, Americans are getting cooler.
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So you’d think that in the coolest country on Earth, we could solve the problem of extreme heat. But while this seems like an obvious solution to our summer woes, our reliance on air conditioning seems uncertain as a viable solution in both the long and short term. In some cases, air conditioning may be exacerbating our problem – and it is clear that there are better, social solutions that we must strive to find.
During the 2019 heat wave in New York City, the limits of air conditioning as a universal solution to urban heat emergencies became apparent. On a Sunday in July, at the start of a three-day fire that raised the heat index to 113ºF, neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens lost power. As the system handled a record-breaking amount of power—much of it in air-conditioning equipment—many parts of the network in southeast Brooklyn failed. In response, Con Ed, the investor-owned organization that acts as the city’s utility, intentionally cut power to an additional 33,000 residents to “prevent further blackouts and protect the integrity of the power system.” More than 50,000 residents – including the elderly in large care centers and infants – struggled without power for more than twenty-four hours. Perhaps most importantly, these neighboring counties, especially Canarsie and the Flatlands, have a Black (59%) and Hispanic (8%) workforce.
Van Consolidated Edison Inc. stands on a street in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City, USA on Saturday, July 20, 2019.
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The logic here is disturbing. And it’s not unusual or exclusive to New York. This is happening in cities all over the country. Con Ed focuses primarily on the low-income black and brown neighborhoods of Southeast Brooklyn as the ideal place to protect Brooklyn and the city as a whole. “Essential resources” and “integrity of the power system” as a whole — that is, in white, wealthy, commercial districts — were favored over the communities of Canarsie and the Flatlands.
Heat waves affect almost every part of the world, but cities present a particular problem. In the United States, extreme heat in the cities where more than 80 percent of Americans now live is estimated to kill about 1,300 people a year. Tall, dense buildings; no leafy trees; waste heat from cars and buildings (including air conditioners); and heat-absorbing materials such as asphalt and roofing materials together form “urban heat islands”. On hot afternoons, some urban areas can be 15ºF warmer than outside the city. It can mean the difference between misery and death.
Like any climate-related disaster, urban heat islands affect people disproportionately. The elderly, children and those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart problems are at risk. Likewise those who work outside; a poor man; the homeless; people without access to shade or water facilities such as swimming pools; living alone; drunkards; and those without safe access to health care.
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Unequally. The NYC “Environment & Health Data Portal” notes that “the risk of heat-related illness or death is higher in neighborhoods with high temperatures and less green space, as well as in poor neighborhoods of color that have historically experienced racism and segregation.” . In fact, societies that have historically experienced racism and discrimination (eg.
This story. Less funding for tree planting in Harlem decades ago means less shade today, which means a warmer neighborhood than a few blocks south. In New York City, black residents make up only 22% of the population, but account for nearly 50% of the city’s heat-related deaths. In cities across the United States, neighborhood median income is a good indicator of plant density.
Air-conditioning divides us by race and class—especially in times of inflation. Because the colorful, low-income areas are hotter, it may take time
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(i.e. more money) to cool homes in these communities to temperatures similar to those in humid areas. In addition, a recent study found that black residents spend hundreds of dollars more on energy bills than whites, even though they are 50% more likely to sacrifice necessities and 40% more likely to keep their home at unhealthy temperatures to pay those higher bills. So even though black households seem to have equal access to energy, the electricity infrastructure still places a greater burden on non-white residents than on white residents.
During a heat wave, our priority should be to keep everyone in the city safe by finding a reliable way to cool off. For those who can, that means running air conditioners in residences — at least for now. But this response to heat-related emergencies doesn’t seem like an emergency response at all. It also does not work when the power grid fails. It leaves survival up to individual consumer choice, exposing the most vulnerable to deadly heat and reinforcing the inequalities that already exist in our cities.
Air conditioners in an apartment building during the heat wave in Austin, Texas, U.S., Tuesday, July 19, 2022.
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What if we give AC to everyone in need? Some cities, like New York, have programs to subsidize air conditioners and energy needed to run through programs like the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), but these can take time or involve research and joining. Activist groups like Harlem’s WE ACT are working hard to connect residents to these programs and keep them cool, but in other cities, air conditioning is rarely supported by those who need it most. At best, these programs are a temporary solution. In a country where basic, life-sustaining health care is not a human right, a self-funded spiritual allowance for those who are struggling seems unlikely, if not palatable, at best.
Our fixation on mood is so entrenched that the only solution most of us can think of for a mood problem is… more mood. This misses the ultimate irony: air conditioning alone is a major contributor to global warming. Most refrigerators still use refrigerants, which are greenhouse gases (GHGs) that are thousands of times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Their direct emissions into the atmosphere account for about 3% of US emissions. Fortunately, recent international agreements phase out these chemicals, but even so, their removal is not guaranteed. Decades ago, another international agreement phased out CFCs, which used to be refrigerants, but it wasn’t until 2019 that factories in East Asia briefly started producing these ozone-destroying chemicals again. This reduced costs. And the prohibition of such a chemical without incentive programs
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