Went out for a trek in the late afternoon till evening and met some middle-age couple who was doing the same trek. The lady who looked really seasoned with treking was a local guide who shared that it was good seeing young people not hanging out in shopping malls.
She mentioned that when she brings the younger kids these days out on nature walks and tours, they asked if there was going to be AC out there. This unfortunately is what we are conditioning (pun intended) our younger ones to think – that development means more covered walkways, more AC spaces, less discomfort from sweat or untidy vegetation.
Think about all the new spaces we creating in Singapore and putting AC in them: underground walkways, connectors linking MRT stations to various developments. Think about how they have been transformed; the linkways for Tanjong Pagar and most of Raffles Place MRT were not air-conditioned but for newer MRTs, they increasingly are. Then there’s more shops and real estate investments there in order to make the money to justify the capital expenditure on the AC, and the cycle continues. All of these spaces running AC are basically taking out warm air and dumping it everywhere else. The more ACs there are on our island, the hotter everywhere else will be!
And because of inefficiency of our equipments, and the second law of thermodynamics, the aggregate amount of heat in the environment will eventually be more than before installation of the ACs. This is going to be an arms race until we think of a better way to organise this city.
Why don’t we start thinking of plants and nature as “air-conditioning” and use plants or dense vegetation for shade and shelter? This will take more effort to build and maintain but we might save more material and build a place that is more sustainable, and regenerative.