I grew up in sub-tropical Queensland, Australia. The summers are hot and humid. My primary school had no air-conditioning, and my high school only had a single air-conditioned room – the computer lab. My family didn’t get our first air-conditioner in our house until I was twelve years old.
Yet only last week, I was talking to someone from my home town, when they mentioned “it’s impossible to live in $HOME_TOWN these days without air-conditioning”. That’s interesting, I thought, have the temperatures really spiked that high?
A quick trip to the BOM website confirmed that, no, temperatures have been in the same general range for the last twenty years. For my home town, that means summers with highs of 30-35 degrees Celsius.
So why is there this general perception that air-conditioning is so necessary these days, when clearly we got by fine without it for all of the twentieth century? It is because air-conditioning is making you soft.
Humans are amazing animals, really. We are unique in our method and ability to cool ourselves. This gives us superpowers, like being able to thrive in an astounding range of habitats, and the ability to outlast any other animal in hot, dry conditions.
As well as being awesome at cooling ourselves down, we are also very fast to adapt to new climates. In about two weeks we will feel the new climate as normal.
When you spend the majority of your time in air-conditioned spaces, you are training your body to adapt to a false climate, that of an air-conditioned room. That is why being outside in your normal habitat feels so hot and uncomfortable all of a sudden.
The solution is simple. Turn off the air-conditioning and enjoy being outside in your local area. After a while, it will feel more comfortable. Your feeling of happiness and mental well-being will also increase.