Archive for March 4th, 2023

It’s not always bad news…

Wichita, Kansas

Reason #27- Air Conditioning

The early need for air conditioning grew out of the need to preserve foods, as those that are kept at room temperature spoil easily due to the growth of bacteria.  At temperatures below 40 degrees, the growth of bacteria is reduced or eliminated.  With the development of food refrigeration came air conditioning and humidity control shortly thereafter.  The invention of absorption-type refrigeration in the early 19th century showed that liquefied ammonia could chill air when it is allowed to evaporate.  Ice was created using compressor technology in the year 1842 by a physician named John Gorrie.

The first commercially-available air conditioning systems were used to cool air for industrial processes, rather than for personal comfort.  The first electrical air conditioning was invented by Willis Carrier, the “Father of Modern Air Conditioning,” in the year 1902.  The rest, as they say, is history.

In America, hot temps begin, on average, in May for the southwest and in July for the rest of the country.  Indeed, recently CNN reported, “A record-breaking heat wave is sweeping across the United States, and close to 90 percent of the population will experience 90-degree heat over the next seven days.”  So, you can see that air cooling is a must in much of the country.

I grew up in dry Southern California, so dry, in fact, that we had a giant evaporation cooler (AKA swamp cooler) that worked well.  When I moved north to a more humid climate, I realized how good I had had it.  Swamp coolers don’t work well in high-humidity environments.  In every place I have lived since my Washington State home, I have insisted upon air conditioning, which handles humidity as well as heat, including New York State, Nevada, Kansas and Colorado.  Even in the desert of Las Vegas and the usually-dry elevation of Denver, summer monsoons can make the heat unbearable and swamp coolers ineffective.  New York State and surrounding areas have wide swaths of homes without air conditioning.  Apparently, the cost of installing the cooling systems far outweigh the relatively few seasonally hot days that it would be needed, so they sweat it out a few days every summer.

We now have A/C in our cars, trucks, RVs, supermarkets, schools and at most workplaces, and none of us can imagine life without it.  There is nothing better than to come inside from a hard afternoon of working in the yard under a hot sun and sit on a cool sofa, preferably with the cold air blowing right at us.  From what I can tell, A/C is one of the most underrated unsung heroes of 20th- and 21st-century living, allowing us to enjoy summer life instead of sweltering in it.


Like myself, Bill Bryson is an American author who precedes modern air conditioning.  He wrote, “I grew up, really, in the days before air conditioning. So I can remember what it was like to be really hot, for instance, and I can remember what it was like when your barber shop and your local stores weren’t air conditioned, so it was hot when you went in them and they propped the doors open.

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