Monday, July 12, 2010

Nevada shaped by fans of air conditioning

Actually, that title could be "Desert lives shaped by fans of air conditioning".

I have often found it amusing that many desert-dwellers say they love living in the desert, but for many months of the year, we live inside, viewing the desert outside through glass while we sit in air-conditioned comfort.  And if we do venture outside in the heat, it is usually to a very non-desert-like place, such as a pool, water park, or reservoir.

Here's a story from the Las Vegas Sun on air-conditioning:

They blasted dynamite holes in the ground to plant trees. The desert was too hard for shovels, but they needed the shade. This was Las Vegas before air conditioning. The trees were an early thermal coercion now quaint and crazy as the rest: People once hung wet sheets in their doorways to cool the air inside, families slept on porches, children chased the ice truck — the novelty of it, frozen water delivered! — grabbing dropped splinters off the hard dirt, stuffing them in their mouths.

None of it really worked. From roughly 3 in the afternoon until sundown, one early Vegas resident told historians, “We just suffered.”

Las Vegas today exists in large part because of air conditioning, which has enabled us to bend the desert to our demands. ...

Read more here: