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Air conditioning? Not a big fan! - (8/2/2022)

By Dr. Ron Gasbarro

Becca, the pharmacy technician, was turning blue. "It's August, so why am I freezing and wearing a sweater? "Because I have the pharmacy air conditioning set on 'Arctic blast,'" the pharmacist replied. "No kidding," Becca said as she shivered. "Before I get frostbite, I'm making a gallon of hot tea!" The pharmacist knew his customers relished coming from the stifling sidewalk to the subzero shop. They tend to hang out longer and will buy more "stuff" before they re-enter the midday blast furnace outside. One year, he tried a high-powered fan in the store to save on the electric bill. Sadly, all that did was blow the greeting card aisle into a ticker-tape parade.  

The pharmacist recalls a time before AC when warm summer nights were a time of socializing. The night air, ablaze with the glow of fireflies, was laced with the smell of barbecued chicken and the sound of the bossa nova. Impromptu Harvey Wallbanger parties could pop up on anyone's front porch. With the parents involved in their own cominglings, we kids would cross our fingers in the hope that 15-year-old Pammy – one of the more street-smart neighborhood kids – would swipe her dad's Bacardi 151 and share it with us behind her pool. Today, the 'hoods are eerily quiet, with only the sound of air conditioners whirring. People stay isolated inside their freon igloos. The samba contests, the pilfered booze, and the midnight laughter are now gone. 

As our planet heats up, we rely on AC to keep us sane. It's in our homes, cars, dollar stores, and porno shops. Can we do without it? Indeed, George Washington and Julius Caesar didn't have AC, and they did OK. But there are two trains of thought on the matter. Some would just as soon slap you silly if you suggested they sleep without icicles hanging from their toes. "Take away my AC machine? Over my dead, ice-cold body!" And there are the quasi-paranoid goons who tough it out. "What if the 'lectrical grid gets knocked out by the North Koreans and us softee-ass 'Muricans have to keep cool by sittin’ on our popsicles? We don’t need no softee-ass AC!” 

Will AC lengthen or shorten our lives? People have been clunked on the head because a 100-pound unit has fallen out of a 23-story window. But more tragic is a lack of sleep. A study in a pedantic neuroscience journal revealed that longevity is linked to good sleep habits. Sleep is essential for normalizing cell function and regenerating the body after a rough day. In the same way that yogurt lasts longer in the fridge, your body will keep better on ice. So, catch all the Z’s you can. Yet, there are more chilling consequences of air-conditioning that will keep you awake at night. Animal dander, dust, and fumes cycle through your unit to mess up your airways. Asthma, laryngitis, and other respiratory problems can ensue. Save your life! Routinely clean the filters on your “magic box of cool.” 

Will AC kill Earth? Scientists swear that the cooler your home, the hotter the planet. The now-routine 108-degree days bring a kneejerk response to crank up the AC. This indulgence – arguably lifesaving to some – leads to greater electricity use, more power outages, and higher greenhouse gas emissions. The end result is a vicious pattern that will severely cost our planet. Eventually, we will have to build structures that cool themselves before our atmosphere has a fatal heatstroke. 

Air-conditioning is a luxury for many people. The pharmacist is aware of this. While others roast to death from the heat and poor air quality, we lucky ducks pamper ourselves in the coldness of an ever-shrinking cubbyhole world. One day, Planet Earth will simply peter out. We will become a glob of intergalactic goo. The Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West cried out at the end, "I'm melting! I'm melting!" and *poof* she was gone. And as our luck runs out, *poof* we will be gone as well.   

Ron Gasbarro, PharmD, is a recovering pharmacist and writer-in-residence at Rx-Press.  

The content contained in this article is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

 


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