Why air conditioning is evil

I sat outside on the porch a lot this weekend and heard only one thing - the whirl of the neighborhood's air conditioning working their brain outs. We made it until May 25th before the Baker's turned their AC. It weird to be outside after the whole neighborhood makes the switch. It is especially weird when it is so hot the birds are napping and the wind is taking a break. School may be out, it might be a public holiday weekend, but suddenly it feels like I am living in a ghost town.

Back in the day (as in High School) I was on Speech Team (yep, I was cool like that). I remember one particular speech from one of my many rounds during one random competition. The speech could generally be summed up as "The reasons as to why air conditioning is evil." Something very similar could've been the title actually. It was a very engaging speech. I remember the plug not being against air conditioning really but against how it made Americans more isolated and less community oriented. The argument probably had a lot to do with global warming, but all I can remember from the speech was that before the take over of the air con, when it was hot out, people would go outside because it was always cooler. Once outside, they would sit on the porch, play in the yard and do whatever they could to cool off. But they were surrounded by one another.

I saw that a lot this past summer living in a poor neighborhood in Chicago. Those who did not have air conditioning were outside.

There is a house I always pass on my runs. In the evenings, no matter what season it is this family is always out on their porch. Maybe they are from the south. I don't know, but whatever it is, I always wish that was me...and then I go home and sit inside while the perfectly good porch attached to this house remains empty.

As we reach the beginning of summer here in Kansas, I find myself thinking about air conditioning a lot. (Maybe because I am crazy). As someone who is already prone to isolate herself (unintentionally) from others, I do not want machines such as the air conditioning, my computer and the television adding to this sense of loneliness. Air conditioning sometimes makes me feel like an "island." It disconnects me from what is happening outside in the world around me.

Okay, don't get me wrong. I use air conditioning. Summer in Kansas is terr-i-ble. And I am doing my best right now not to come across as crazy or a hippy. This is not my stance against the mighty AC. I appreciate air conditioning, especially on days when I get to the office all sticky after a morning baking in a warm kitchen. But, like the television, I don't want it to control me or my day.

A co-worker of mine recently sent me the link to a thermostat system that is eco-friendly and does all these cool things to help people save money and helps the planet by using less energy. Sounds like a win-win-(win), right? However, I am not sure I trust the humans behind this machine - the ones who will eventually use this. We are so prone to be in comfortable temperatures all the time, no matter what season, that I am not sure we will ever completely get away from this. There had been plenty of times when I walk out of my air conditioned place and realize, "hmm, it's not too bad out here." If I hadn't gone outside, I wouldn't have even known to turn off my air. I am prone to forgetfulness.

I had free reign of the house this past Saturday. Since I knew I was going to be doing a lot of gardening and a variety of other outdoor activities, I turned the air off to save energy. When I was done for the day, I "rewarded" myself by turning the air on for about an hour and half. I then switched it off and headed onto the porch to spend my evening in the cool night air.

I need to remind myself of this more than any one. I need to remember to pay attention to the weather. If most Americans lived their lives not constantly confined to the air conditioner, it would greatly help our planet. Save it? Definitely not. But it would help.

With this blog, I am often afraid that I am coming across as this insane person who is against all these things. (True, I did use the title of this post as an eye-catcher, but that's it really). But mostly what I want to do here is ask questions. I don't want to be some type of "recycling Nazi" (although I often feel like one of those at work). My point is not to lecture everyone about how we are destroying everything. Instead, I believe caring about the environment helps us better engage in community. If my air conditioning is keeping me from this, than I need to maybe reevaluate something. Get rid of it? Not necessarily. But rethink and reduce. All I know is that I need to be surrounded by community. I cannot keep pushing it away. I want to find myself more engaged with community and less with machines that do not love me. No matter how introverted I am, at the end of the day, people, not air conditioners, are what bring meaning to my life.

We had our air on this afternoon but have since turned it off. It still remains to be cooler outside than inside. But that is okay. The soothing sounds of the night are waltzing through my window, which, to me, is a way more comforting sound than the white noise of the air con.