Viewing a single comment thread. View all comments

OathOfFeanor t1_j6rklvr wrote

1/3 is pretty terrible.

How many excess heat deaths do air conditioners prevent?

Wouldn't a focus on renewable energy for air conditioning be more efficient and save more lives?

Admittedly air conditioning is worthless to the homeless population whereas trees benefit them. But that's another problem I think we need to actually address, getting people homes.


it actually looks like air conditioning has barely superior performance when it comes to preventing heat deaths (35% rather than 33%) but this global figure is mostly caused by people not having access to air conditioning:

> This pattern holds true globally. A major 2021 research report in the Lancet estimated that, globally, access to air conditioning averted 195,000 heat-related deaths among people ages 65 and older in 2019

> The authors estimate that 1.7 million deaths globally in 2019 were linked to extreme heat or cold. Of those, 356,000 deaths were due to heat...


marin4rasauce t1_j6rlydr wrote

Check out this investigative podcast for some insight on the idea that focusing on renewable energy for air conditioning would be better. It's a pretty interesting topic.


OathOfFeanor t1_j6wlkqq wrote

Maybe if you tune into their podcast daily or something they have discussed more but that linked page doesn't contain any useful information on this topic.

That link sings the praises of shade, and does not mention a single downside or challenge with its recommendation (such as irrigation). It only even mentions air conditioning twice, never exploring any aspect of it.

In contrast, I edited my post with scientific studies demonstrating that the limited amount of air conditioning we have in place now is already more effective than the shade is expected to be after full deployment. If we can deploy air conditioning we can save far more lives.


bootsforever t1_j6sdwlq wrote

We should do all of these things. We need air conditioned spaces and renewable energy, but if we can reduce the urban heat island effect by increasing vegetation in general (and canopy in particular), then we won't need as much energy to cool those indoor spaces.


OathOfFeanor t1_j6shki5 wrote

In general I agree but on a large scale, the areas that need the most shade also have the least amount of water.

Trees consume an incredible amount of water and that's a big deal in these places where the large shade trees don't grow naturally.


bootsforever t1_j6t3f80 wrote

I see your point. Again, that's a problem that has a lot of different variables. First of all, any solution must be particular to the local conditions. Los Angeles is different from Seattle is different from Charleston is different from Paris is different from Venice (and so on). Second, different species of tree have dramatically different requirements and live in wildly different conditions.

For example, The American Southeast is full of live oaks, which provide lots of shade and are well suited to the environment there. Those trees wouldn't do as well in, for example, desert climates in Arizona; however, the Palo Verde tree thrives in that region, and is used as a street tree that provides shade, beauty, habitat, etc.

I wouldn't recommend slapping a bunch of oaks and maples in the Arizona desert, and I also wouldn't recommend covering South Carolina in Palo Verde.


I also agree that there is an increasing need for energy efficient air conditioning that can be powered by renewable resources. I do not think vegetation is the only answer to this problem. We are at a stage where we need a multi-pronged approach to these vast and complicated issues.