Penelope Green, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Modernity was born 116 years, 11 months, two weeks and two days ago, at a printing plant in the East Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, when a junior engineer named Willis Carrier devised a contraption that blew air over water-filled pipes to dry out the humidity that was gumming up the pages of a humor magazine called Judge.
And in that moment (well, within a few decades), entire industries and geographies were transformed, and new technologies made possible, including, terribly, the internet: Without cooling, there would be no server farms.
Nearly 90 percent of American households now have some form of air-conditioning, more than any other country in the world except Japan, though that will change as global warming alters more temperate zones, and swelling populations and rising incomes in hot zones mean the folks there will clamor for AC, too.
On an overheated planet, air-conditioning becomes more and more desirable, solving in the short term the problem it helped create.
Sign Up for the Wait — Newsletter
Each week, you’ll get stories about money, power, sex and scrunchies.
It is another paradox that even as architects and engineers are making ever more efficient buildings to meet energy standards set by cities like New York, where a new law says that buildings over 25,000 square feet must reduce their carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2050, we are still freezing in our offices and fighting with our partners over whether to turn on the Friedrich.