What Does It Mean to Be Comfortable?

Maggie Koerth-Baker, writing for the New York Times Magazine:

By shifting work from the sweltering afternoon into cooler evening hours, the siesta provided a kind of de facto air-conditioning, says Elizabeth Shove, a professor of sociology at Lancaster University in England. Getting rid of siestas makes people more dependent, during the hottest part of the day, on energy-intensive forms of cooling. Air-conditioning use in Mexico has skyrocketed since the siesta ban. In 1995, 10 percent of Mexican homes had A.C. By 2011, that figure had grown to 80 percent.

Shove studies the cultural and historical factors underlying sustainable living. Historically, she says, societies developed methods of dealing with their local climates, and those tools and behaviors became ingrained cultural customs. As the world becomes more interconnected, these customs are changing, and so is the definition of something as elemental as comfort.

The rest of the piece is just as eye opening.

Thanks to the support of readers like you, Per Square Mile remains independent and ad-free.

If you enjoy what you read, please consider supporting the site with a donation.

opening times