The greatest invention in human history is not the wheel, cars or the cell phone.
As much of the nation continues to bake with temperatures in the 90s and beyond, can there be any doubt that our most wonderful piece of technology is the air conditioner? It was way back in 1902 that Willis Carrier created the Apparatus for Treating Air for a Brooklyn printing company — a breakthrough that, as it developed and spread over the decades, changed the human condition. Today, close to 90 percent of U.S. homes have AC, but I am old enough to remember when it was still a luxury. During heat waves, people barely moved; nights were a sleepless ordeal. From such misery did air conditioning set us free.
Air conditioning is not merely a matter of comfort; it has given us modern life. It keeps people working when the mercury climbs past 90, thus boosting the economy. It’s enabled a great migration of tens of millions of people to Sun Belt states that nature only intended for lizards.
Some eco-warriors suggest we all wean ourselves from Carrier’s invention and return to a more natural way of life. Sorry: I’d give up my digital devices, my TV, before I went back to scorching-hot cars. If they come for my air conditioner, they’ll have to rip it out of my wonderfully cool hands.