Climate Change Is As Dangerous As ISIS, Says Kerry, And Part of the Problem Is Your Air Conditioning

The fight against climate change is as important and urgent as the threat of terrorism, Secretary of State John Kerry argues as negotiations in Vienna work towards a ban on heat-trapping chemicals.

The fight against climate change is as important and urgent as the threat of terrorism, Secretary of State John Kerry argues as negotiations in Vienna work towards a ban on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioners. But as the world works toward a deal to ban these heat-trapping chemicals, many are looking to the United States to also curb its growing reliance on air conditioning, Rick Noack reports for The Washington Post.

While both Europe and the United States are concerned about HFCs and the powerfully heat-trapping gases they emit, as evidenced by a meeting held in Vienna this past weekend to draft a deal banning HFCs, Europe is growing frustrated with the US’s dependence on air conditioners.

“If the second, fourth, and fifth most populous nations — India, Indonesia, and Brazil, all hot and humid — were to use as much energy per capita for air conditioning as does the U.S., it would require 100 percent of those countries’ electricity supplies, plus all of the electricity generated by Mexico, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the entire continent of Africa,” Stan Cox, a researcher who focuses on indoor climate controlling, told The Washington Post.

US Secretary of State John Kerry was also in attendance at this meeting in Vienna where he emphasized the urgency of the global threat of climate change: “Yesterday, I met in Washington with 45 nations — defense ministers and foreign ministers — as we were working together on the challenge of Daesh, ISIL, and terrorism,” Kerry said.

“It’s hard for some people to grasp it, but what we — you — are doing here right now is of equal importance because it has the ability to literally save life on the planet itself,” Kerry said, referring to climate action and the draft deal to ban HFCs. About 90 percent of those gases are used in fridges or air conditioning systems, Noack reports.

For European critics, however, the presence of air conditioning in the United States, is not as concerning as its over-use, Noack says. Visitors to the US often complain of overly chilled buildings, particularly during the summer months, and the science supports this: While Americans prefer an average indoor temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, Europeans would consider such temperatures too cold.

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