JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks


Advertising


Australian Speakers Agency



GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper



Archives

Books

Air conditioning reduces indoor air pollution — give me cheap electrons

Just another way cheaper electricity saves lives.

Photo by Photo by noodle kimm on Unsplash

It turns out hotter rooms have higher indoor pollution. Levels of formaldehyde are lower in the morning and rise with the temperature. Air conditioning in hot summers, keeps the temperature down and will reduce the amount of formaldehyde and other pollutants from out-gassing from furniture and gypsum walls. Obviously those who can’t afford to run the air conditioner and who live in warmer rooms in summer will be exposed to more pollution.

Though the worst situation was in 1970s homes with radiant heaters installed on gypsum sheets. In that case, people who can’t afford to heat may avoid some fumes.

Opening windows will clear out the indoor pollution, but houses are increasingly being designed to stop draughts to be more energy efficient.

The message: get rich or open windows when it’s nice outside, move those bar heaters off the walls, and buy peace lilies, bamboo palms, and dracaenas.

Researchers uncover indoor pollution hazards

By Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture

PULLMAN, Wash – When most people think about air pollution, they think of summertime haze, traffic or smokestack [...]

Airconditioners save 20,000 lives in USA each year

Over the last century there was a remarkable decline in deaths due to hot days and heatwaves. (Not that the media seem keen to say so). Mortality on a hot day declined by fully 75% in the decades after 1960 when air conditioners started to be rolled out.

In the words of the authors from this 2016 study, the people of the US have largely adapted in ways that protect them from extreme heat. The kind of hot days they are talking about happen on average 20 days a year in the US.

There has not been a similar reduction in deaths from cold snaps.

First, we document a remarkable decline in the mortality effect of temperature extremes: The impact of days with a mean temperature exceeding 80°F (26.6C) has declined by about 75 percent over the course of the twentieth century in the United States, with almost the entire decline occurring after 1960. The result is that there are about 20,000 fewer fatalities annually than if the pre-1960 impacts of mortality still prevailed.

We achieved a lot of things in the 20th century, but when Barreca went through the statistics, it wasn’t the introduction of electricity that [...]

As it got hotter in Spain, less people died. Thank air conditioning and electricity.

Cheap energy might save more lives than expensive “climate-changey” energy?

Researchers looked at 47 major cities in Spain, from 1980 to 2015 and checked 554,491 deaths. Even though temperatures have risen, less people are dying of heat in Spain. Apparently human ingenuity, energy and air conditioners were more than able to keep up with climate change. The population is older but less vulnerable to heat now than it was forty years ago.

Air conditioners rose from 5% of the population to 35% during the study period.

Oh the dilemma — to save lives, should we build more windmills to try to change the global climate or aim to get 100% of households access to an air conditioner?

Welcome to the dire threat of climate change:

The relative risk of death fell as temperatures rose (According to the model used). See the caption below.

From the Discussion in the paper:

The temporal evolution of heat-related mortality risks here found is, in general, consistent with those reported by previous studies in some other countries [12–15], which provide evidence for a decrease in vulnerability to climate warming despite the ageing of societies. For example, in Spain, the proportion of people [...]

The main “cause” of global warming is air conditioners. p7

The headline is tongue in cheek, but the message is serious.

Look at these pictures of NOAA’s U.S. temperature stations. These thermometers on the ground have recorded faster temperature rises than sensors on satellites and weather balloons.

Lucky heat doesn’t rise off asphalt…

Things may have looked different at this site in 1909.

[...]