I don’t have air-conditioning in my house, my company’s offices have no A/C, and quite a number of our friends and family members and neighbors live without A/C, too, along with most people in the world. This is a fine thing in terms of the environment, and in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts hardly heroic. But these last few days of heat have made us think about extreme weather conditions and how to manage without A/C. I found a short “keeping cool” list in one of my early books, Eco Living, and have been expanding it with the help of Anna, Mar, and Tom. It’s not finished, but I thought I’d share it in the hope of getting some additional tips (you’ll be credited for ideas we include) to be included on the website and in my next book (title yet to be decided).

Keeping Cool in a Hotter World

Assess your situation over the entire course of the day. Sunlight heats your home. Air cools it. In the summer, you want to minimize the impact of sunlight and maximize airflow. The other key factor is water. Evaporating water cools the air. Also, keep in mind that in some places there is a dramatic drop in temperature at night.

But the most important factor is psychological: you need to convince yourself that heat is okay. Human beings are in fact very adaptable. Remarkably adaptable, to a degree that explains how we can come to dominate the earth. In the past, the big problem with hot climates was disease: when it was hot, bacteria multiplied and people died. But that is no longer a problem: unless we’re sick, oil, immobile, or really clueless, we will not truly suffer from heat.

The tragedy of the commons is that people crank up air-conditioning, which spits hot air into the street, so the buildings get hotter, and other people crank up their air-conditioning. It’s like ski slopes making snow and thus contributing to global warming which means there isn’t snow, so they turn on the machines