According to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) quotedeconomicIn 2016, air conditioning and fans contributed to nearly 10 percent of energy consumption globally, and with the use of air conditioners increasingly prevalent, consumption is expected to triple by 2050.
In spite of scorching hot days Like those, it certainly improves the quality of life for those who use it, and air conditioning has a huge impact on the environment: More consumption in general means more emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. The pollution from its use exacerbates the effects of global warming, which in turn makes the use of air conditioners increasingly indispensable. But not only: one studio Recently published in the magazine global environmental change He points out that greater use of air conditioning will also have social and economic consequences, especially in some countries.
The study was conducted by a group of researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Germany’s University of Mannheim, and studied 16 countries, including the United States, China, India, Italy and Pakistan. The researchers collected data on household income and whether or not they owned an air conditioner, and correlated it with average temperatures recorded to make estimates about how air conditioning would be used in the future.
Based on the analyzes carried out, the use of air conditioners is expected to spread increasingly, not only due to the increase in temperatures caused by Climate change, but also because more and more people will be able to afford it. Researchers’ analyzes indicate that 35 percent of households in the world have an air conditioner in 2020, and researchers estimate 55 percent by 2050. In Italy, it has been calculated that 30 percent of the population has air conditioners today: according to research, in 2050 it will be 50.
The reality is that not everyone will be able to afford it, especially in countries with fragile economies or those where large segments of the population have low incomes.
– Read also: A brief history of air conditioning
According to the predictions of researchers, air conditioners will become more popular in the future, but they will continue to be used only by families with middle and high incomes, as the observations of 2020 confirm: this means that one segment of the population will receive more than others, which instead You will obviously suffer the dire consequences of not having it.
In particular, in countries such as China, the economic availability of families and therefore the use of air conditioners will tend to increase: as wages increase, many people will exceed $10,000 in income, the criterion considered in the study as the threshold dividing income Low to high middle income. In a country like Pakistan, the gap will still be very wide: It is estimated that 38 percent of upper-middle-income Pakistani households will have an air conditioner in 2050, compared to 5 percent of low-income households.
The study notes that in addition to energy consumption and pollution, more widespread use of air conditioning will have positive effects. It has been calculated that having air conditioners in the home would save the lives of millions of vulnerable people Increasingly frequent heat waves They may be at risk of dying from heart problems or complications related to diseases that already exist: researchers talk about the lives of 550 thousand people annually in India alone, a country according to previous studies, 630 thousand people die every year from heat-related causes, from which 2050 could become Nearly 1.5 million.
At the same time, since the poorer sectors of poor countries will not be able to afford it, it has been calculated that even healthy populations who are part of these families will have more chances of suffering from negative effects or in any case. Less productive in case of intense waves or prolonged heat.
As someone pointed out research conducted at Harvard University in 2018, on days when temperatures are above average, without air conditioning, there is a marked decrease in cognitive function, and this may affect the performance of those who study or work, with negligible consequences for the “economy of .
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