The shopping mall, the office block, suburbs, museums, Hollywood, the Gulf cities – air conditioning powered their rise. Has the time come to turn it off?

,Once, when I was staying in Houston, Texas, my host was showing me round her house. It included a mighty fireplace.

“How often does it get cold enough to light a fire?” I asked, as what little I knew about the city included the fact that it is mostly hot and humid. Maybe once or twice a year, she replied, but her husband came from Wisconsin. He liked a log fire. So they would turn up the air conditioning and light one.

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