Living in Canada you get used to weather-related comments and jokes. But of course they all focus on just how cold and miserable it can be here during the winter. No doubt our winters can be really cold and, perhaps worse, very long, to say nothing of dark. If a Canadian winter followed the calendar and ran from December to March we’d be laughing. If only … However being one of those who endures the lengthy chilly season allow me to turn to the other end of the temperature scale for a moment.
In Montreal our summers rival several more southern hotspots in humidity levels if not duration or basic temperature. As is the case with wind-chill in the winter, our summer temperatures are always hotter than the number on the thermometer which may indicate 32C which is 89F when the actual sensation is much hotter. Always check the humidex for a “feels like” reading before venturing outside. Anyone who has come here for our renowned Festival International de Jazz thinking our summer must be just a slightly warmer version of our winter can attest to this.
Whether it is a result of global warming or not is debatable, but the sense that is our day-to-day summer experience is now warmer and longer. I graduated from high school in 1976 and can’t recall the temperature during the late or early school year ever being terribly hot. Now the mercury can climb in April and still record hot conditions in September. No problem you say, just crank up the air conditioning. Therein lies the problem.
We do well coping with winter and heating,we’ve got that down pat. Yet as we have experienced longer periods of warmer weather, we haven’t quite adjusted our thinking to include more air conditioning. I would hazard a guess that very few schools have central air conditioning. That’s not to say there aren’t pockets within the buildings that have window units installed, probably at the individual teacher’s expense, but a general comfort zone is another issue.
Okay, maybe a few weeks of heat doesn’t warrant an overhaul of a school’s HVAC system, but let’s take a look at public transit. We are constantly being urged, for any number of very valid reasons, to use buses, Metros, taxis and trains in an effort to reduce the number of private cars on the roads. Great idea, I’m all for it. Until it comes to strap-hanging on a stifling hot bus in a suit and tie! Standing, even sitting, on a crowded non-air conditioned bus, praying that the windows are not stuck, as it crawls through traffic only to let you off at a connecting subway that is also crowded and hot and never has opening windows does not make for a pleasant trek to the office.
While we wouldn’t dream of having buses without heating in the winter, why are we so averse to air conditioning for the rest of the year?. Naturally there would be an expense, but if you want folks to use the service, you might want to make it a more tolerable experience. We’ve got Hybrid buses that run on used cooking oil, and our Metro is electric – couldn’t we just squeeze out a few bucks for A/C?
Today’s Daily Prompt: Longing For Gravity asks what we would miss the most if sent to Mars. I have opted to illustrate what I won’t miss at all! I sure hope that space craft is air conditioned!