Keeping Cool (Without Making Global Warming Worse)

17:20 minutes

Sustainability researcher Michael Sivak estimates that the potential demand for energy to cool Mumbai, India with air conditioning would equal a quarter of the energy used to cool the entire United States, based on the city’s large population and high temperature. As A/C comes online in more and more households and cities around the globe, how sustainable is satisfying the desire for cool air?

Kiel Moe, a professor of architecture and energy at Harvard, talks about historic efforts to keep cities and homes cool—such as importing piles of snow from the mountains—and how we might cool our homes and bodies in lower-energy ways, such as smarter use of building materials like concrete and wood.

Segment Guests

Kiel Moe

Kiel Moe is an associate professor in Architecture and Energy at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Michael Sivak

Michael Sivak is a research professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.

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