|During the hottest days of summer, having an air conditioner within one’s home can be a godsend.
However, as the effects of global climate change make temperatures rise across much of the planet — and as income growth in developing countries allows more people to get a home air conditioning installation — experts anticipate that air conditioning could soon become as much of a problem as it is a solution.
According to a study recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, air conditioning adoption will likely boom through the end of this century, causing residential energy usage to jump by 83%.
While the immediate effects of a boom in the air conditioning industry seem positive — it’s undoubtedly a good thing for people who want to get relief from unbearably hot temperatures — the boom’s long-term effects on the environment and for electricity infrastructure can’t be ignored.
With more air conditioning use, there will be more emissions of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, according to The Verge. Basically, as people turn to air conditioning to escape the rising temperatures, they will be unknowingly making the problem of climate change worse.
Additionally, the air conditioning boom will place a huge amount of stress on global infrastructure for electricity generation and transmission. More than one billion people living in developing nations will soon be able to buy their first air conditioner, meaning that energy suppliers will soon have to scramble to meet this massive demand.
While the study presents two huge problems associated with rising air conditioning adoption, its authors also state their findings offer a good incentive for air conditioning manufacturers to make their products consume less energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases.
“(Rising sales) creates incentives for manufacturers of air conditioners to find ways of making them better, and that includes more energy-efficient air conditioners,” Lucas Davis, an Associate Professor at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the study’s lead author, told The Verge.
The seven billion people who call this planet home are standing at the crossroads of a momentous decision — do we sit idly by and let the effects of climate change grow worse every year, or do we take actions now to stop the planet from warming?