Climate-Controlled Chaos and Coastal Conveniences

The adventure continues: The air conditioning in my “new” house has stopped working. In southwestern Florida in July, this is an actual tragedy. I am apparently not reacting properly. I simply opened up the windows and lay under the ceiling fan. My neighbors seemed to think I was supposed to call the HVAC company at 7:30 p.m. and have the problem fixed immediately (incurring the extra charges for an after-hours service call.) That seemed excessive. If I can’t handle one night without AC perhaps I should not have chosen to move to the subtropics. I slept fine and the HVAC guy (gal? I wish) is coming in an hour.

I am again reminded of how dependent on conveniences I have become. Most of the developing world lives without climate controlled housing 365 days a year, and many of those countries are in tropical and subtropical zones. AC is not a need, it’s a luxury. I need food and water. I need shelter from the elements. (Mostly from hurricanes.) I don’t need perfectly regulated 72 degree air blowing on me 24/7. I went to a meeting recently where the AC in the room was cranked to like 60 degrees. It was so cold that my nose started running and I wanted a blanket. Seriously, that’s not just excessive, it’s irrational. This is why we’re fat.

I’m not even kidding about the fat thing. I read a scientific article a while back that discussed the underlying causes of the obesity epidemic in first world countries. While there were some important trends like modern food processing and chemicals that factored in, a primary trigger was the dependence on interior climate control that keep our bodies from self-regulating our body temperatures—a process that burns calories and helps maintain a healthy, stable metabolism. Sweating is actually good for us. We’re fatter as a society because our bodies don’t have to do any work to maintain a constant temperature, which is a thing mammals evolved to do. Climate controlled environments are working against human evolution. Also, having the heat set at 78 in the winter causes a similar problem, but not one I probably have to worry about anymore.

Change is good. Which reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw on a pick-up truck yesterday. It said “I’ll keep my guns, freedom, and money. You can keep the ‘change’.” Clearly the individual piloting the vehicle was not a fan of Obama. Thankfully, he didn’t feel the need to yell at me out his opened window. His window was closed—no doubt he was enjoying his truck’s AC. This is hardly the first time I’ve encountered this sort of sentiment, but I was feeling rather introspective at that moment. I had just finished a particularly invigorating karate workout and was thus feeling all spiritually connected to the universe. I wondered at what point the driver thought his “guns, freedom, and money” were being taken away, and what “changes” he found so threatening. I suspect he didn’t think too carefully about the rhetorical subtext of his bumper sticker. I am not disparaging any specific political beliefs; I am pointing out that resisting “change” as a concept is silly and impossible. Eventually, humans will evolve (change) to adapt to climate controlled living, but we’re not there yet. We develop new technology faster than our evolution can accommodate. There’s an old saying: “Change isn’t uncomfortable. My resistance to change is what causes discomfort.” Also, that was a tangent. Welcome to the rabbit hole.

In summation, the HVAC company is going to fix my air conditioner. That doesn’t mean I have to leave it on all the time. I’m not that evolved.