Recently, the Washington Post published an article about the rise of air conditioner installations and use around the world. This article highlights one of the more striking parts of world population growth – the growing demand for energy. In this case, it’s the increasing use of air conditioners, which use energy. This demand – as many as 700 million air conditioners will be installed by 2030 – will come with a subsequent increase in use of electricity and an equally large carbon footprint.
It’s one thing to look at population data and statistics to give us a glimpse into a place or a time around the world. But, looking at the actions and habits of human populations deliver another significant part of the picture – all of the stuff we have and use every day, from mobile phones and cars to bicycles and air conditioners. It’s an enormous amount of stuff!
Consider that as countries around the world continue to develop, and as areas in the world get warmer and warmer, air conditioning will become a greater necessity. As the article states, “as these countries boom in wealth and population, and extend electricity to more people even as the climate warms, the projections are clear: They are going to install mind-boggling amounts of air conditioning, not just for comfort but as a health necessity.”
On the World Population History website, one of the milestone events in the early 1900’s was the invention of air conditioning. This invention by Willis Carrier in 1902 spurred population migration to southern cities in the U.S. in the 20th century. The current expansion of air conditioning in places like India will affect productivity and energy use on a massive scale. Something to think about.