Beating the heat raises more heat in urban space

Beating the heat raises more heat in urban space

Summer catch-22

Air conditioners are creating a vicious circle as warming and emission of heat are adversely affecting the environment. Rajeev Betne, senior programme coordinator with Toxics Link, said any artificial cooling instrument emits more carbon footprint than others.

“When we consider the overall consumption of energy, it will amount to a major loss of coal and electricity. ACs recycle whatever heat is generated within the house. Also, the heat emitted in the atmosphere produces ozone depleting gases,” he said.

Experts say buildings stand cheek by jowl in congested lanes that further pollutes the air. “Only if one is willing to give up the luxury of sitting in AC rooms and opt for desert coolers, we will be able to prevent this type of pollution,” said Vinod Gupta, a city-based architect.

“But it is difficult to stay without external cooling because of congested construction, where there is hardly any inlet for natural light and ventilation,” said Gupta.

Gupta said desert coolers that circulate fresh air can be used in dry summer but not during monsoon.
Yogesh Gokhale, a fellow with The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) said ACs emit chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that are harmful to the ozone layer. He said overexposure at concentrations of 11 per cent or more of these gases can cause dizziness, loss of concentration, central nervous system depression and cardiac arrhythmia.

“On any given day, we are exposed to over 11 per cent of CFCs because of central AC offices and sleeping with the AC on for the entire night. Vapours displace air and can cause asphyxiation in confined spaces,” he said.

As far as alternatives are concerned, experts recommend green buildings where lighting and ventilation surround the area proportionally. Even construction material makes a lot of difference as cement absorbs heat but if people use unsustainable products such as ACs and inverters, these eventually end up increasing the heat level, claim experts.

Farhat from Lajpat Nagar said that her first preference would be a desert cooler in summer. “There is absolutely no ventilation with ACs in houses. With coolers at least you can be sure that fresh air is coming inside the house,” she said.

In TERI’s recent online survey, 50.50 per cent people in Delhi-NCR in the age group of 18-34 years said air quality has deteriorated.

E-waste GALORE

Cellphones and other electronic items contain toxic metals. They can harm the environment and people as well long after their utility has expired if not disposed of properly. According to conservationists, people discard electronic gadgets in their regular household waste bins, which travel all the way to the junkyard.

But componenets such as batteries continue to release harmful chemicals for a long time, affecting the soil and groundwater, and putting the lives of ragpickers at risk.

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