A Post-Air-Conditioning World

Hi Readers! Stan Cox, author of the new book, “Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer),” wrote a great oped for The Washington Post last summer about what life would be like if we still sweltered. As a person who is always freezing, I LOVE the idea of an un-airconditioned world, not just because it would allow me to peel off several (dozen) cardigans, but also because I believe in what Cox preaches: That when we HAVE to go outside for relief, we gain a lot more than a cool breeze. We regain the whole idea of neighborhood. And we regain a season! As he writes in his oped:

Saying goodbye to A.C. means saying hello to the world. With more people spending more time outdoors — particularly in the late afternoon and evening, when temperatures fall more quickly outside than they do inside — neighborhoods see a boom in spontaneous summertime socializing.

Rather than cowering alone in chilly home-entertainment rooms, neighbors get to know one another. Because there are more people outside, streets in high-crime areas become safer. As a result of all this, a strange thing happens: Deaths from heat decline. Elderly people no longer die alone inside sweltering apartments, too afraid to venture outside for help and too isolated to be noticed. Instead, people look out for one another during heat waves, checking in on their most vulnerable neighbors.

Children — and others — take to bikes and scooters, because of the cooling effect of air movement. Calls for more summer school and even year-round school cease. Our kids don’t need more time inside, everyone agrees; they need the shady playgrounds and water sprinklers that spring up in every neighborhood.

Okay — he sounds a little hokey. But only because we’ve become so divorced from the idea that we can stand a little discomfort that we dismiss the idea that we really COULD be happier while sweatier.

I’m not sure how to bring this revolution about, since we already live without a.c. in my house and it’s not like anyone seems eager to follow our lead. (Or visit in July.)  But it’s something to think about, while our teeth chatter next to the A.C. vent. — Lenore

I'd trade a.c. for a day like this.

Fight Fat with Free-Range?

Hey Readers — Take a look at this column by Glenn Cook in The Las Vegas Review Journal, “The Obesity Cure: Free Range Kids.”

I know we are not all positive that there IS an obesity epidemic or, if there is, what its root causes are, but I think we can all agree that most kids today are less active than their parents were, for reasons ranging from Club Penguin to Nancy Grace. And even if they’re in organized sports, that’s still a different kettle of fish than coming home and riding a bike around the neighborhood till suppertime.

Yesterday my 12-year-old was out of the house all day, which seemed great. He was wandering with a group of friends, maybe six or seven of them, and I spotted them loping by a few times. It was like seeing gazelles in the wild. Loved it! But when he finally came home he started telling me about this great TV show he’d just seen for the first time.

I know, I know — a little TV is not the end of the world. And what’s the alternative — me micromanaging his day? “You VILL have outdoor fun!”  I’m just bummed that all of us — kids and adults — are up against the twin lures of air conditioning and streaming video. Those are hard for anyone to resist on a hot summer’s day.

All sorts of modern day conveniences and conventions make it hard to get our kids rollicking and frolicking as much as we’d like — or hard for me,  anyway. But when media start recognizing Free Range as a healthy way to raise kids,  that’s just good news.  Let’s hope what happens in Vegas doesn’t just stay in Vegas.– Lenore

'Sno joke! Get 'em outside!