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If you’re one of those people who both loves living with a constant icy blast of arctic air and hates summer weather, well, it turns out you may have played yourself.
New research suggests that our dependence on air conditioning has actually made us less capable of handling hot weather, and with global temperatures rising every month, this isn’t the best news.
According to Stan Cox, author of “Losing Our Cool,” our ancestors’ lack of air conditioning might have been uncomfortable (and the cause of heat-related deaths during steamy summers), but it actually made them tougher. In a recent lecture at the New York Academy of Medicine, Cox explained that our ancestors were actually better able to tolerate the heat—because there was no alternative.
Additionally, the American obsession with A/C is also making our world hotter as we divert huge amounts of energy to residential cooling systems. In fact, climate researchers are more than a little concerned about our A/C addiction. But so are psychologists, because in your head, it actually feels hotter when you’re used to a chilly 66-degrees inside. The more air conditioning you use, the more your body depends on it to cool down. (Case in point: As of 2015, only 13 percent of homes in Mexico had air conditioning.)
This is what scientists call the “adaptive comfort model.” The idea is that our perfect temperature depends on the most recent one we’ve been exposed to. According to Cox, the more we deal with hot weather, the better we can handle it.
So, how do we go about fixing this problem we’ve created for ourselves? Well, try easing up on your A/C. If you can get used to keeping the thermostat a couple degrees warmer, it may help 80 degrees feel a little more comfortable. Don’t take it too far, however. Heat deaths are still a very real issue in our country, despite our air conditioning addiction.