Air-conditioning the outside—really
Qatar is both a country and a peninsula which juts out about 100 miles into the Persian Gulf. It is precisely this geography which makes it both one of the hottest and muggiest places on Earth. The average daily high in mid-summer is 108 degrees F (42 degrees C).
With temperatures now exceeding those averages on a regular basis and nighttime temperatures hovering in the 90s in summer, Qatar has begun working on making the outside cooler.
It had to come. As climate change continues to move temperatures up worldwide, those places that were already hot are getting hotter—and unlivable.
Workers on a U.S. military base in Qatar must now follow strict rest regimens so as not to endanger their well-being on hot days. The Washington Post reports:
The U.S. Air Force calls very hot days “black flag days” and limits exposure of troops stationed at al-Udeid Air Base. Personnel conducting patrols or aircraft maintenance work for 20 minutes, then rest for 40 minutes and drink two bottles of water an hour. People doing heavy work in the fire department or aircraft repair may work for only 10 minutes at a time, followed by 50 minutes of rest, according to a spokesman for the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing.
Cooling units along walkways and outdoor seating areas in Qatar’s cities make it possible for people to stroll or relax in the evening without danger of overheating. Qatar is also engineering ways to cool entire open-air stadiums to make them bearable for spectators.
In my previous post I discussed how our ideas of progress are getting in the way of actual progress in human affairs. While Qatar may be making “progress” in cooling technology, I would not consider it a contribution to the overall progress of humankind. It is actually one more example of the limits we face.
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