air conditioning the desert

I’ve said on this site a number of times in the past that Phoenix should not exist. We shouldn’t, in my opinion, be expending energy cooling homes in the desert when there’s land that will actually support human life elsewhere. I know it may sound harsh, but I really don’t care that the dry air makes old people’s joints feel good — it’s not sustainable, and the whole thing should be torn down and used for scrap. So, with all that said, can you guess how I feel about the plans being talked about today to refrigerate a large swath of beech in Dubai so that the sand no longer burns the feet and tender bottoms of the international rich and famous?

Speaking of Dubai, did you know that the average person living there right now already has a carbon footprint of more than 44 tons of CO2 a year? And that’s before they start air conditioning the great outdoors.

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7 Comments

  1. Kurt A>
    Posted December 17, 2008 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Mark, Phoenix should be allowed to exist but only if everyone lives in an ‘EarthShip’ http://www.earthship.net/.

  2. ytown
    Posted December 17, 2008 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Please Great Mark, please tell us mortals where to live!

  3. Ol' E Cross
    Posted December 18, 2008 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Next thing you know people in cold climates will want to start heating their homes in the winter…

  4. Posted December 22, 2008 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Ol E’Cross has that argument won.

    A/C costs in the desert using swamp coolers take very little electricity to run. Heat pumps use quite a bit more. My mom’s is an all electric house, never a bill over $200.

    So far this winter my heat has come on exactly two mornings. Granted it’s set at 63. Once the sun comes in the windows, we need no heat.

    I baked two fruitcakes outside today in the solar oven. 250 degrees. Successful experiment. I line dry clothes year round. In the summer they are dry as soon as the load is hung.

    Dubai; a bunch of weenies. Burning sand is part of the experience. Who wants an air conditioned beach?

  5. Paw
    Posted December 22, 2008 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I think you’re wrong on that. Cooling, as I understand it, uses more energy than heating, which is generally required less of the year and can be controlled to a great extent by insulation.

  6. Posted December 23, 2008 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    I suppose it depends on how you cool. Evaporative (or swamp) coolers use so little electricity that they can be run with PV panels. They use up to 75% less energy than air conditioning does. They can only be used where the humidity is low, however.

    When I lived in Michigan I used A/C in the summer AND heated in the winter, like many people do.

    In New Mexico, because of the design of the home, adobe, I only have to cool about 1 1/2 months out of the year. That is when it doesn’t cool off enough at night to cool the walls down, or when it’s too hot to bring cool air in at night. Otherwise, night cooling will penetrate the walls about 12 hours later from the onset, which would be the next day, and you use window fans to bring in the cool air at night.

    Here is some info about swamp coolers if you’re interested.

  7. j7uy5
    Posted December 23, 2008 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    Not to mention the fact that habitable cliff dwellings and pueblos still exist in New Mexico, among other places. They were there at least several years before air conditioning was invented.

    Cripes, the conquistadores bopped around in the Chihauhua desert in full suits of armor.

    Air conditioning is needed in the desert only if you try to maintain an unsustainably frenetic lifestyle. In the USA, we like to boast that our workers are the most productive in the world. That may be true, but we use FIVE TIMES MORE energy per capita to attain that level of productivity, compared to the world as a whole. And twice as much as Europe.

    Each part of the nation has pluses and minuses.

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