Self | Global Warming

The Paradox of Air Conditioning

Can we overcome our addiction to cold air?

Sean Kernan
5 min readSep 29, 2023


Pexels Images via Zhang kaiyv

Air conditioning is a glaring contradiction of the modern era. By cooling ourselves off, we make the world hotter.

It’s most egregious in dense urban areas, where AC units pull hot air out of homes and into the streets, raising local temperatures and causing other units to work harder (also called the Urban Heat Island Effect). This energy consumption, heating, and re-cooling, creates a vicious cycle that contributes to long-term warming — and ridiculous electric bills.

Even worse, our cities aren’t equipped for what’s to come. During recent heat waves, entire grids collapsed because of record AC use — such as in Texas, which is extremely vulnerable and had 6 grids go down in 2022.

So how do we deal with the rising ubiquity of air conditioning without melting? There are a few options.

“Why not just use less AC?”

As a long-time Floridian, it’s hard to imagine life without air conditioning. During hurricanes, the loss of electricity and subsequent heat creates enormous health risks to local residents and leads to heat strokes and deaths.



Sean Kernan

I'm a nommer. Submit your articles to my publication Corporate Underbelly and I'll try to help you get boosted.