Generally speaking, Europeans tend to get snooty when talking about Americans' love of air conditioning, writes Megan McArdle at Bloomberg. They don't understand it, and the implication is that we're a bunch of pampered babies who can't live without it. "For Europeans reading this, I may actually be able to clear up this baffling issue," writes McArdle. "Americans use air conditioning more because America is a lot hotter than Europe is." She's got stats and charts to back up her case, including how Berlin's average temperature in July is 73 compared with DC's 88. What a typical American city considers "summer" might constitute a heat wave—with deadly consequences—in Europe.
Critics might point to the American sunbelt with its blistering heat and say it's no place for big cities, but McArdle points out that it still costs more to heat a home in the winter than to cool it in the summer. In fact, the move to warmer climes has actually saved energy. "So why are we so down on air conditioning, while accepting flagrant heat use as normal?" she asks. "In part, it's because air conditioning still seems optional. Unlike a cold winter with no heat, a hot summer with no cooling won't definitely kill you." (Click for her full column.)