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Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer)
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Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer)

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3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  86 ratings  ·  38 reviews
One of the Mother Nature Network’s ten “must-read environmental books” of the year, Losing Our Cool is the first book to examine how indoor climate control is helping send our outdoor climate reeling out of control. With summers growing hotter and energy demand heavier, Stan Cox shows how air-conditioning transforms human experience in surprising ways, by altering our bodi ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by The New Press (first published May 25th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 258)
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David
very interesting historical and cultural analysis of air conditioning. Describes clearly the scope (e.g., we in the US use more electricity for air conditioning than the people of all of Africa use for all purposes), relative recency (in 1960, the year before I was born, only 12% of US households had any a/c, and this was mainly in the form of window units rather than central -- by 1980 55%, and by 2005 82%, mainly central air), and myriad effects (wasted gas as we cool our idling cars, pollutio ...more
Mike
While visiting the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas this past summer, the geologist there told Ruth and I about an air-conditioning book. The author of the book happened to live in Salina and I jotted down the information to track the book down later. Suffice it to say that Salina is super hot - while we were there, we camped at a campground and were the only people camping. In fact, when Ruth entered the campground office, one of the employees asked her if she was planning on going in the tent ...more
Margaret Heller
Highly recommended. Seriously, read this book.

I read this book and write this review with the perpetual sound of the neighbor's air conditioner going on and off. Even on nights when the temperature is 65 with low humidity, every 15 minutes or so the compressor turns on, and the whining drone takes away the very occasional peaceful quiet one gets in a city neighborhood. I have never once seen the windows in the house open. The people who live there are very nice, have great kids, and like to ente
...more
Clover White
A very interesting (if not exceptionally written) overview of how air conditioning is both unsustainable as a planet, and how it has drastically changed our nation. I felt it lacked any real concrete answers on a personal level-- how do *I* get by without air conditioning? A book that piqued my interest to read more on the subject.
Rachel
I had to read this book for an assignment for my Participation in Government class in school. At first, I picked it out because I found the cover kind of intriguing. The content in the book itself is definitely not about an issue I would expect to be so controversial. Air conditioning? Who would expect that? Cox really shows the statistics and numbers but I didn't like how one-sided it was. I understand that most people write from a one-sided point of view and what they know best but it would ha ...more
Grace
"Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer) is an interesting read that ties together electricity use, fossil fuels, global warming, and the fate of our planet as it relates to the use of air conditioning. Most of us probably don't even give a second thought about turning on the air conditioner in our living room or bedroom during the hottest or most humid days of summer or even to turning it on in our automobiles as we ...more
Sandy D.
Fascinating history and research, sadly not very well laid out or explained. Heavily overburdened with statistics and boring prose.

It did make me aware of how very much AC costs in terms of energy & pollution (both chemical and heat pollution), and the advantages of not over-using AC, or using it unthinkingly. I love my whole house fan, it lets us shut the AC off soon after sunset, and draw naturally cool outside air inside. We live on the edge of a field that slopes down with a rush of cool
...more
Rift Vegan
I currently live in an area with mostly mild weather and I do not have an air conditioner. I was amused that the book opens with info about Phoenix Arizona USA, during the exact time I happened to be living there! I don't remember specifically "July 15-16, 2003, when the city 'cooled' down only to 96 [35C] by early morning... and hit 117 [47C] on the afternoon of the 16th"... but I do know that I hated the sun and the heat, and that's exactly why I moved to Oregon!

There are a lot of stats in thi
...more
Emilia P
This book was a true bitch to get through, it was both overly technical and overly fuzzy. And a lot of the stuff it said was obvious, but some of it was worth hearing again. And I agree with its basic premise whole-heartedly. You can't keep trying to make new fixes to what is basically a self-imposed problem that was supposed to be a solution in the first place. Build better ventilated buildings, smaller houses, use air-conditioning wisely and for people who really need it. But this will just ma ...more
April
Okay....so one star might not be very fair. But that's the best I can do. I didn't finish reading this book. I got through the first 2 1/2 chapters. It wasn't riveting enough. It didn't hold my attention. Perhaps I just needed something less heavy to read. Plus, if you are going to write a book in which part of the title is "Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer"....I think you should actually include some practical stuff. Not just the expensive, super tech stuff that most of us can't affor ...more
Lauren
An absolute plethora of information, the writing and organization are by no means bad but not quite up to par for a book with this much technical, sometimes dense material. More diagrams would have been preferable to some of the descriptions, and I’m not entirely convinced Mr. Cox delivered on the second part of the subtitle. I was impressed at the relatively neutral position Mr. Cox took in writing the book and found the book to be, overall, an interesting and informative read. Nevertheless, I ...more
Nadine
I thought it a bit strange, a whole book on Air-conditionning. But the author makes it an example.
When I studied in environnemental studies, one teacher told us that Energy was the ultimate pollution, and this book demonstrates this very well.
It's a good reflexion on how more efficiency is sometime not a solution (more efficient is often less expensive and brings bigger machines, more demand)
It brings to light the feedback loop on some new technology. On how some technology add up to bring a wa
...more
Katie
This book was more statistics and less story than, say, Freakonomics, but still readable. Humans are capable of adjusting to temperature (within a range) but the trend has been to keep a steady temperature year-round. It vindicated my thought that trees help shade your house, deciduous being particularly good because it lets the sun through in the winter, as well as increasing the curb appeal. I didn't know, though, that Energy Star compares only like models. It doesn't tell you that any basic f ...more
Tracey
TCPL - on order as of 13 Jul - placed on hold - checked out 7/25
Interview w/ author on Marketplace on NPR 12 Jun


This book will probably give you a guilt trip, especially if you read it during one of the hottest summers in the last several years, as I did, after having bought a larger house with an aging AC system to boot.

Lots of sobering facts & figures - well-written, tho I hesitate to say enjoyable (see guilt trip above). I wish there had been more of what the subtitle promised - suggest
...more
Rhiannon
Full of interesting information about the impact air-conditioning has had on development and life in the United States since its widespread implementation and about the ways air-conditioning has been received worldwide. Some of the statistics regarding the carbon output solely from our air-conditioning usage were stunning. I also got some useful tips regarding our goal to not have to put the window unit in this summer, though I wish there had been more information on that. This book definitely h ...more
Karen
Full of the statistics on how air conditioning has changed our world. Some ideas on keeping cool with less energy.
Steve Miller
Like most other reviewers, I found the book dense and often bogged down by Cox's obsession with academic studies and opinions. The subject matter is brilliant, and Cox often makes strong points regarding the dichotomy of a green world and the almost pathological need to cool everything. "Losing Our Cool" is a frustrating science book, because it's such a good idea that goes undelivered. More anecdotes - even those using citations - would make this a compelling read.
Jennifer
An interesting look at how air conditioning has shaped our communities and work places and its effects on society, economic development, and the environment. I appreciate that the author is not advocating that we simply suffer though hot and humid conditions, but look at how our de facto policies shape things, and that there are alternatives that will keep us cool, if we devote the attention and effort that they will require to implement.
Celeste
Jun 18, 2012 Celeste rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: technophiles with a guilty conscience
I read this book almost two years ago, and it's still a book I talk about more than just about any other nonfiction piece I've read in that same time period, so I'm boosting my review up a notch. I still wish that the book dealt more with what to DO about the problems it talks about, but I still really appreciate the background that it gave me on the topic.
Kara
Despite high hopes, tortuously dry. I started skimming after chapter two, and, after ditching it for a COSMO (Cosmo! Dislike!) during the longest wait evah at the doctor's office, I knew it was time to give up. Maybe there was potential if I'd been patient, but there are too many other good books waiting for me to suffer unnecessarily.
Bob
Very accessible for us nonscience oriented types. Reviews history of airconditioning (especially central air) and reminds us that this is a very recent luxury and a very costly one to our environment. I come away largely pessimistic about our society's ability to deny shortterm luxury for long term stability of planet.
Sue
This was a pretty interesting book especially for someone who has recently ditched their a/c. I skipped around a bit in the book though. The technical nature of the book made it somewhat of a dull read. But there were some interesting concepts in it while not being too preachy. I would recommend it.
Lynette
Aug 08, 2012 Lynette rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lynette by: woozlemom@earthlink.net
Lots of information about how our current lifestyle requires and contributes to the overuse of fossil fuels, but not enough information about how the average homeowner can avoid air conditioning and not be too uncomfortable.
Anneliz
Insightful and thought-provoking book about air conditioning. AC's pervasiveness hasn't occurred to me before this book, or really how much influence it has in the world. Crazy. Well-written and fascinating.
Desiree
Mostly about how our increased use of air conditioning is using up way too much of our fossil fuels. However, there are other interesting topics concerning the way we choose to stay cool....

Recommended!
Carrie
If I could give this book 3.5 stars I would. It was a good book, pretty interesting, just sometimes dry. It really has me thinking about how much energy we use in the U.S. and how very unsustainable that is.
Charlotte
I was happy to find this book, because air conditioning and its overuse are among my hobby horses. The book is well-written, and historically and technologically interesting. I give it a thumbs up.
Margaret Sankey
Essentially the social history of air conditioning, with consideration of the architectural, social and demographic changes wrought by the ability to extensively alter the indoor climate.
Mitchell
An interesting idea for a book, too bad the actuality wasn't as good. A 10 page summary for this would be worthwhile... Mostly the book was disorganized and boring. 3 of 5.
Sarah
On the one hand, it feels wrong to be reading this during the winter. On the other hand, it's currently really easy to persuade me that air conditioning is unnecessary.
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Stan Cox is author of Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (The New Press, 2010) and Sick Planet (Pluto Press, 2008).

His op-ed columns have appeared in the Denver Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kansas City Star, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, San Jose Mercury-News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Hartford Courant, Providence Journal, Wilmington News Journal, Burlington Fre
...more
More about Stan Cox...
Sick Planet: Corporate Food and Medicine Any Way You Slice It: The Past, Present, and Future of Rationing Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World (and Finding New Ways to Get Through the Summer Losing Our Cool A Refutation of the A.D. 70 Doctrine

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