I was born on a Marine Corps base in North Carolina, in 1955, near the ocean. That is a temperate climate by most standards. It got hot in summer and cold in winter, but as a child I did not worry about it. We had no air conditioning, almost nobody did back then, but we certainly had heat. I remember being seriously cold only once, when Legendary Mother locked me out of the house during a snow storm in Greenville, Texas when I was four, to punish me (Legendary Father was stationed in Japan that year).
In 1955 the human population of the United States was about 165 million. The population of the planet Earth was about 2.6 billion.
When I was six years old Legendary Father was retired from the Marine Corps (they failed to anticipate the need for trained, reliable murderers starting in 1965 in Vietnam) and we moved to Florida. It was hot! But again, no air conditioning. Our house was in a suburb that had recently been a swamp. My grade school was not air conditioned either.
Then around 1964 we moved into a fancier neighborhood and the house had central air. Legendary Mother set the thermostat at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21.1 degrees C.) In summer it was 70, and in winter it was 70. Whatever budget strains the family had, no thought was given saving a bit of electricity by letting the house vary from 70. The electricity, in that place and era, came from burning fuel oil.
In 1965 the human population of the United States was about 190 million. The population of the planet Earth was about 3.4 billion.
I have to admit I became a bit of a weenie. Cold was seldom a problem. I continued to play outside when I could, and I continued to sweat profusely while sitting still at school, in the fall and spring. But I also enjoyed walking into our air conditioned house and cooling off. At some point a new car was bought that had air conditioning.
In school I never, ever had air conditioning. Not in grade school, not in high school, not in college.
But in the winter of 1973-74 I ran into a different problem. That was a result of the Arab Oil Embargo. I had no budget for clothing for college (Legendary Father and Legendary Mother had thrown me out of the family), or I should say that working for minimum wage to pay for college made me extremely careful about buying anything. My freshman year I had endured the cold of New England dressed in Florida appropriate clothes. But at least the dorms and classrooms were well heated.
Not so the winter of 1973-74. My college economized. I was cold all the time, in my dorm room and in classrooms. But I did not die, and when Spring rolled around, I had largely acclimatized. My Florida clothes (now becoming rags) were adequate because my body had adapted.
In 1975 the population of the U.S. was about 215 million. The global population was about 4.1 billion.
My body had adapted to cold despite spending most of my childhood in Florida. In the meantime, since the start of the Industrial Revolution, America was converting vast amounts of fossil fuel into carbon dioxide. In 1975 Global Warming itself was still somewhat hidden among the ordinary fluctuations of weather, but we, the human race, had built a big ol' Greenhouse by burning fuel to run heaters and air conditions, cars and trucks, factories and armies.
Now political leaders (well, heads of state anyway) are gathered in Paris to pretend to do something about greenhouse gasses and global warming.
Couldn't they just agree to Turn Off the Goddam Air Conditioners! No one on earth had air conditioning until the 20th century. People can acclimatize to heat. They can wear shorts in summer, even at places of business. The first year will be tough, sure, as we get used to sweating again (and other people sweating).
Instead the Air Conditioned Nightmare (Henry Miller's term) is spreading like a cancer on the earth. As soon as people have the dough, they want their first air conditioner. Just like my Legendary Mother.
Sure, do all the other things. But turning off all air conditioners can be done quickly and would have a major impact.
An estimate of the current human population of the United States is 322 million, and of earth is 7.2 billion.
The other important item that should be on the Paris agenda is lowering the human population by setting up a global One Child policy. Half the population would produce only half the environmental problem. But sadly, that idea is not on the agenda. It is not on the agenda of most environmental non-profits, either, because they are afraid of the fundraising repercussions of speaking the real core truth to Power. Better to blow up skirts and reap the rain of donations.