Feds Pay $450K to Study if A/C Helps With Heat

Brittany M. Hughes | August 9, 2016
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Congratulations, American taxpayer! You’ve just doled out $450,000 to Arizona State University so researchers can study whether people get hot when it’s hot outside, and if turning on the A/C actually helps.

The National Science Foundation just forked over nearly half a million bucks for the creation of "a simulation platform to enhance infrastructure and community resilience to extreme heat events.” The grant description explains this study is needed, of course, because we’re all roasting ourselves like rotisserie chickens under the heat lamp of man-made climate change.

The grant theorizes that “exposure to heat is a growing public health concern in many cities across the globe,” but adds that “very little is known about how people are exposed to heat during their day-to-day activities as they interact with urban infrastructure.”

So in order to study how people deal with heat, we apparently need to spend hundreds of thousands to research “factors including the types of homes people live in (and whether they have and use air conditioning),” which apparently isn’t a no-brainer.

We also need to study things like “shading, landscaping and material choice” and how that relates to “how people experience heat indoors.” (Because the question of whether an air-conditioned office building surrounded by trees is more heat-resistant than an all-metal trailer sitting on some open concrete just hasn’t been solved yet.)

Researchers will also compare heat tolerability between different “work situations” like an “air conditioned office versus [an] outdoor worker” to figure out who deals with heat better.

We also need to study how people get around cities when it’s hot outside, because millennia of human travel just hasn’t taught us enough about walking from point A to point B in 95-degree weather to prepare us for the coming climate apocalpyse. From the grant:

… Using national and regional travel surveys combined with detailed travel models, simulations of how people move throughout cities will be developed. Downscaled climate models will be used to estimate present and future outdoor conditions in both cities. Information on infrastructure including materials, landscaping, and shading will also be used to develop estimates of outdoor exposure. Combining simulated exposures with health records will provide new insight into dangerous heat exposure profiles.

Then again, this is the same government that spent $250,000 to study whether people use air conditioning in the summer and also advised their taxpayer-paid employees to stay home from work if it gets too hot outside.