In the ramshackle apartment blocks and sooty concrete homes that line the dusty roads of urban India, there is a new status symbol on proud display. An air-conditioner has become a sign of middle-class status in developing nations, a must-have dowry item.
It is cheaper than a car, and arguably more life-changing in steamy regions, where cooling can make it easier for a child to study or a worker to sleep.
But as air-conditioners sprout from windows and storefronts across the world, scientists are becoming increasingly alarmed about the impact of the gases on which they run. All are potent agents of global warming.
Yes, the Times, which views Middle America as “the dance of the low-sloping foreheads,” takes an even dimmer colonial view of those who are beyond the borders of Saul Steinberg’s classic “View of the World from 9th Avenue” New Yorker cover depicting New York and California and a vast wasteland between: better to preserve Gaia and let the bloody wogs sweat. And yet somehow I doubt Pinch lets his employees perspire very much in the summer in the New York Times’ offices. Nor will he be turning off the air-conditioning in the server rooms and voluntarily shutting his Website down.
As Virginia Postrel told C-Span’s Brian Lamb in 1999 when promoting The Future and its Enemies:
The Khmer Rouge sought to start over at year zero, and to sort of create the kind of society that very civilized, humane greens write about as though it were an ideal. I mean, people who would never consider genocide. But I argue that if you want to know what that would take, look at Cambodia: to empty the cities and turn everyone into peasants again. Even in a less developed country, let alone in someplace like the United States, that these sort of static utopian fantasies are just that.
But playing the role of omnipotent tourist — even virtual tourist via cable modem inside your air-conditioned office — is awfully fun for some to contemplate.
(Via Hugh Hewitt.)