Monday, October 28, 2019

AC/DC (air conditioning / digging complex)

borne ceaselessly into the future

An old episode of The Simpsons ("Homer the Vigilante," s05e11) concludes with a parodic riff on It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. A frenzied mob tears through Springfield in search of a cache of stolen riches buried at the foot of a T-shaped tree. After it becomes obvious that they've all been bamboozled, a handful of dimwittedly tenacious treasure hunters perseveres in the excavation until they've tunneled themselves to the bottom of a veritable well shaft.

"How are we going to get out of here?" Otto asks.

"We'll dig our way out!" Homer declares, and with undiminished vigor the doomed adventurers resume plying their spades.

"No, dig up, stupid!" Police Chief Wiggum reprimands them after the fade-to-black.

That was the first bit of cartoon tomfoolery I was reminded of while reading a piece in the Washington Post about how Qatar has taken to air-conditioning its outdoor spaces as anthropogenic climate change puts the thermal screws to the small (but exceedingly wealthy) Persian Gulf state:
Already one of the hottest places on Earth, Qatar has seen average temperatures rise more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial times, the current international goal for limiting the damage of global warming. The 2015 Paris climate summit said it would be better to keep temperatures "well below" that, ideally to no more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.... 
To survive the summer heat, Qatar not only air-conditions its soccer stadiums, but also the outdoors —— in markets, along sidewalks, even at outdoor malls so people can window shop with a cool breeze. “If you turn off air conditioners, it will be unbearable. You cannot function effectively,” says Yousef al-Horr, founder of the Gulf Organization for Research and Development. 
Yet outdoor air conditioning is part of a vicious cycle. Carbon emissions create global warming, which creates the desire for air conditioning, which creates the need for burning fuels that emit more carbon dioxide. In Qatar, total cooling capacity is expected to nearly double from 2016 to 2030, according to the International District Cooling & Heating Conference. 
And it’s going to get hotter.