Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Random Rio sustainability problem

Anyone who's suffered through the swelter of a Rio summer knows the sweat-drenched feeling of wanting escape from the soul-wilting heat. Those are days when even the most ecologically conscious types will step on an air conditioned bus and breathe a sigh of relief.

Anyone who's lived through a Rio winter knows it's really nothing to compare to winters in, say, St. Paul or Moscow. But on a day when it rainy, windy, and 65 degrees out, I'm not really searching for air conditioning. And somehow on those days I still end up on those same air conditioned busses.


My sentiments exactly.

The worst part is that the air conditioned bus actually costs an additional 30 real cents, 12 percent more or something close to $0.18 -- not much for me, but a relevant amount for most Rio residents who live at the poverty line. I'm happy to pay the difference when there's sweat dripping off my face, but paying for air conditioning I didn't want adds insult to injury. You can always wait for another bus that doesn't have air conditioning, but you don't know when one will come. I usually just end up shivering my way home.

My guess is the driver installs an air conditioning unit and then charges more to help pay it down, and to pay for the additional fuel required to keep the bus cool. Trouble is, in the winter time nobody wins -- the riders pay more for something they don't want, and the driver uses extra fuel. If he turns the air conditioning off in the winter, he can't charge more and it will take him longer to pay down the cost of the investment. So

There so many situations like this around the world that lead to ludicrous use of fuel. How many times have you been in someone's apartment where the windows are open in the dead of winter because they can't turn the heat down? How many offices have you seen where the air conditioning is so cold that people are constantly wrapping their hands around mugs of hot coffee or putting on sweaters to keep warm?

Systems are tough to change, even when common sense screams out for it.

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