Living in New York affords me the luxury of never needing to drive a car, but even when I lived in the South, I pretty much rode my bike everywhere. There are two main impediments to riding in the South: shitty bike infrastructure (generally, this is the land of the suburban boom-town and the epicenter of sprawl, but Austin def. provides in some cases), and a love of air conditioning inculcated from birth.
Seriously: AC in cars, AC in businesses, AC in homes, all the time. My dad told me stories about the introduction of AC in Dallas, when AC made or broke businesses – those that had it attracted crowds, those that didn’t fell behind. No doubt the same is true today – anyone without the air commits social suicide. Aside from the energy-electricity impacts of AC-ing the world, the social function of cool air effects the environment as well.
I’m talking about sweat. And the stigma against it. Sweat comes from human-propelled transportation, an kind of energy that American infrastructure was designed to eliminate. Now that global warming forces us to reconsider how we get around, we need to reconsider how we smell. Because of AC, the option to climate control our entire lives, the stigma against sweat worsened, encouraging the use of energy or transport that minimized human exertion. Even in New York during the summer, I know folks who live their lives with the unreasonable expectation (considering they don’t have or need cars) that they will remain unsweaty throughout the day.
The point is this: the environmental crisis has taught us that many of our modern conveniences present losing propositions in the long run. AC is one example – the heat it eliminates indoors only gets pumped outdoors (creating urban heat islands, which suck – last May in Athens, GA, it rained every afternoon for 15 minutes due to the Atlanta heat island, which has become its own meteorological force); the energy we use to power AC units creates its own heating problems, too extensive to go over here. We need to learn to accept sweat now, so we don’t overheat in the long run.
edit: jesus, I didn’t realize just how naked the people in that picture were… changed to a new pic.