It's sad that an invention that helps people stay cool is contributing to climate change. Yes, the way ACs do their job contributes to this issue that's only getting worse.
Experts predict that by 2050 4.5 billion ACs will be used all over the world. That's a large number of ACs helping folks, which is good for human beings but bad for the earth. That many AC units will cause a 0.5 degree Celsius rise.
Does that mean everyone should turn off their AC units? No, of course not, the truth is that people need air conditioning, especially in some of the hotter regions of this planet. The solution here is investing in AC technology. As incredible as it may sound, what makes an AC work hasn't changed in decades, not since 1902. It should be pointed out that the economies of countries like India, Indonesia, and Brazil are improving. This means the people in those countries will start buying a large number of AC units, which is going to contribute to the problem.
Some people are attempting to address the issue, like the people behind the Global Cooling Prize competition. The winner would get $1 million for designing a single-room AC that produced considerably less greenhouse gas. The competition was sponsored by the Indian Department of Science and Technology. If successful and promoted, something like this could help the earth. The people in this country seem to be taking the problem seriously and want to be a part of the solution. The groups involved are definitely thinking of everything. The AC unit can't cost more than double what the normal one costs. Back in 2019, eight finalists created potential options, and those eight finalists are not creating their prototypes to see if they will do what they're hoping they'll do.
The AC market continues to focus on other things instead of figuring out how to make these machines more efficient and figuring out how to replace the hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants, which are chemicals climate change activists continue to fight against.
The finalists in that contest are attempting to find ways to make ACs more efficient and use eco-conscious refrigerants. Only time will tell if their efforts are going to make a difference.
Experts are trying to tackle the humidity issue. Sometimes, it feels hotter than it is because it's too humid, and the body can't cool down easily. An AC system deals with this issue by cooling the room down way more than needed, using up too much energy in the process.
A startup at MIT is trying to build a device that removes water molecules without cooling the room down too much. The startup is using a metal-organic framework filled with nanoscale pores. These little pores are meant to remove water molecules more effectively than anything else on the market. This could make a humid room feel much better using less energy if it works.
Hopefully, the world finds a way to make this happen. Someone needs to make cooling more efficient because it's definitely necessary, and it shouldn't be making climate change worse for the people either.