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Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer) Hardcover – May 25, 2010


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Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer) + Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; 1 edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595584897
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595584892
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #788,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cox (Sick Planet) provides the first-ever book-length look at the consequences on our environment and on our health of air-conditioning in this enlightening study. He documents how greenhouse emissions increased and ozone depletion skyrocketed once air conditioners became prevalent, and presents staggering statistics: the amount of electricity Americans use for powering their air conditioners alone equals the same amount the 930 million residents of Africa use for all their electricity needs. Cox reveals some surprising information as he explores air conditioning as a potential spreader of contagions—of asthma and allergies and possibly even sexual dysfunctions. He offers a reality check to proposed solutions that have fatal flaws (and may be worse than the problems they attempt to solve) including dematerialization, improved AC energy efficiency, and clean energy options. In addition, he provides a list of changes that will help: reducing indoor heat, using fans, utilizing cool roofs, and increasing vegetation. Well-written, thoroughly researched, with a truly global focus, the book offers much for consumers, environmentalists, and policy makers to consider before powering up to cool down. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“This is an important book. The history of air-conditioning is really the history of the world’s energy and climate crises, and by narrowing the focus Stan Cox makes the big picture comprehensible. He also suggests remedies—which are different from the ones favored by politicians, environmentalists, and appliance manufacturers, not least because they might actually work.”
—David Owen, author of Green Metropolis

“As Stan Cox details in his excellent new book, Losing Our Cool, air conditioning has been a major force in shaping western society.”
—Bradford Plumer, The National

“This book is the go-to source for a better understanding of the complexity of pumping cold air into a warming climate.”
—Maude Barlow

“Important. . . .What I like about Cox’s book is that he isn’t an eco-nag or moralist."
—Tom Condon, Hartford Courant

“Stan Cox offers both some sobering facts and some interesting strategies for thinking through a big part of our energy dilemma.”
—Bill McKibben

“Well-written, thoroughly researched, with a truly global focus, the book offers much for consumers, environmentalists, and policy makers to consider before powering up to cool down.”
Publishers Weekly
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Before joining the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, as senior scientist in 2000, Stan Cox worked as a U.S. Department of Agriculture geneticist for thirteen years. His environmental writing has been widely published. He is the author of Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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What a great thing if enough of us decided to take some steps in that direction.
Margaret Harrison
Losing our Cool does a remarkable job describing our limited world view through the lens of air conditioning.
Greg Cox
This book covers a topic of great importance and relevance in a highly readable way.
Dangerous Dave

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kathleen L. on August 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As with anything I have read by this author, this book is well-written, well-researched, deeply thoughtful, and far-seeing. This book does an excellent job of laying out and critically engaging with the otherwise hidden or unconsidered detrimental social, political, and environmental ramifications of air conditioning. The book is revelatory in showing how a/c, in a surprisingly significant way, reinforces destructive and unhealthy patterns and structures in our society. The book is also helpful in providing concrete suggestions for breaking out of these destructive patterns and lessening our dependence on a/c. The suggestions range from changes that can be made on an individual level to alternative scientific innovations in cooling to changes that should be taken on a public policy level. (I would also note that the book gives all due consideration as well to the need for public access to cooling centers.) The heart of this book is clear: a deep concern to help people and planet not only survive, but flourish.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Greg Cox on August 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Losing our Cool does a remarkable job describing our limited world view through the lens of air conditioning. At a time when we are being called to (and often stubbornly refusing to) look at the balance of convenience and comfort versus long term destruction this book provides a wonderful lens through which to view this problem.

The paradox of air conditioning is a great sociological metaphor for the myriad ways we as a culture "drive right by" evidence of our doing great destruction to the ecology when realistic other options are available.

Cox's book evidences careful research, very approachable prose and a wry sense of humor. This is one of those books that was waiting to be written and Cox has done an excellent job. You will enjoy and be challenged by Losing Our Cool.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Freethinker on August 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is a masterful discussion of a surprisingly neglected subject. Apparently air conditioning is now so overwhelmingly present in America, especially in Sunbelt States like Arizona and Florida, that everyone simply takes it for granted as a necessity. Yet Stan Cox quickly demonstrates that the Hohokam people who lived for centuries in the vicinity of Phoenix built complex canal systems extending for a thousand miles, thus naturally cooling their habitat. Throughout his text, Cox draws on relevant historical perspectives--after all, for most of human history, electrical refrigerant air conditioning did not exist--explaining the paradoxical effect of dramatically increasing the heat in urban environments built on asphalt and concrete, in the attempt to stay cool via machinery. A great range of technical data is gathered and collated in a lucid manner. Cox says his book is an effort to open discussion, and he has done just that. Cox shows that there are viable alternatives to traditional A/C refrigeration systems. This might be a book that actually initiates profound and widespread social/environmental changes.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rees Chapman on August 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Cox confirms, with great eloquence and insight, what I've believed for decades: that air conditioning sickens us (and our world around us) by throwing our organismic processes out of balance with our environment. The writer's blend of science, anthropology and sociology in exploring the related issues is compelling and enjoyable. It is the kind of revelation which will be compeletly unacceptable to readers who are unable to recognize themselves as co-conspirators in such paradoxical crises. Highly recommended!
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Peter Koziar on July 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book does a good job describing the problem, but I was expecting more about how to solve it. It really didn't have a lot to offer in that regard - just things like swamp coolers that really don't work in our area because of consistent high humidity.

Our climate also doesn't get very cool in night during the summertime, so opening the windows doesn't help. I joke that here it gets up to 90 degrees during the day, and cools off all the way to 89 at night.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Campbell on December 22, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a chemical engineer, I found some of the science reasonable even though I can tell from the energy balance another writer noted shows he is in over his head.

Probably the biggest waste of money for an ebook on Amazon.

My biggest complaint is that there seems to be an ever present belief on the part of the author that we can stop generating CO2 and other gases with only a little effort. Good luck on that.

I was surprised a lot that the average American household only spent a couple hundred bucks a year on the a-c. Perhaps Kansas and other places are cool. I don't know anyone with a large home in the Houston area that pays less than an average of several hundred per month. Pane that's with high SEER units, insulation and radiant barrier like crazy. That's with a set point of 76F.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rich R on October 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The big problem! On page 35, the author states:
"Notice that the air-condition system pictured [in the figure on the next page] is using only one kilowatt of electrical energy* to expel a quantity of heat energy equivalent to four kilowatts. This does not mean that an air conditioner violates the laws of thermodynamics. The electricity running the unit comes most often from an electric utility, where the quantity of useful energy converted to waste heat - typically by burning coal or natural gas to generate electricity - is greater than the quantity of heat energy removed from a room or house by the air conditioner."

As an engineer, I want to scream: "By what magic does the air conditioner care how or where the electricity came from?" As though there is somehow a signal from the generating station telling the air conditioner that it can extract more energy than it uses. Would the air conditioner run less efficiently if the electricity came from a hydroelectric dam where the efficiency could be quite high? No! The generating station and the air conditioner run by the laws of thermodynamics quite independently! The author partly clears this up in the notes at the back of the book.

* The above quoted paragraph also illustrates the very common error of confusing power and energy. A kilowatt is a measure of power; a kilowatt-hour is a measure of energy.

Now that I got that off of my chest, I will praise the book. (I do like this book.)

I especially appreciate Stan Cox's understanding the difference between efficiency and conservation. He nicely illustrates this by simply stating that an ordinary 1500 square foot house generally uses less energy than a highly efficient house of 3000 square feet. Mr.
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