The building at the Riviera Club, where we went swimming, was the same way, and so was the nearby Starbucks. A little cool is nice when it’s hot and humid outside, but there’s no excuse for using so much energy.
At one of the first summertime movies I went to in Korea, I noticed how much warmer it was in the theater compared to the United States. It wasn’t hot, but neither was it an icebox. I admit it made it me think about germs from the people next to me in a way I didn’t when it was cold (American theaters are also less crowded), but I still enjoyed the movie. And Korea has campaigns to save energy. Government agencies have orders not to set their thermostats above certain temperatures in winter or below them in summer. Private businesses are encouraged to follow the government’s example, and many do.
Campaigns announced in the newspapers encourage men to wear short sleeves to work and not to wear ties, which raise the body temperature. And people comply.
“It’s time for America to begin seeing itself as part of the bigger picture rather than a lone ranger with big walls along its borders separating it from the rest of the world.”
Compare that to the United States, where a fierce declaration of independence guarantees the right to keep one’s office or home as cold as one wants, to set one’s thermostat at 15 degrees Celsius in the middle of summer, if one wants, while leaving the windows open.
It’s a crime against the rest of humanity the way America uses energy. According to World Population Balance, the United States has 5 percent of the world population but uses 20 percent of its energy. Compare that to India, which has more than 15 percent of the population but uses around 5 percent of the energy; or China, which has around 20 percent of the population but uses slightly more than 15 percent of the energy. That America has the world’s largest economy plays a part, but overconsumption also contributes to the disparity.
What’s to be done? Americans can find ways to use less, whether by replacing incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones, driving more fuel efficient cars or heating and cooling their homes and businesses to reasonable levels.
It’s time for America to begin seeing itself as part of the bigger picture rather than a lone ranger with big walls along its borders separating it from the rest of the world. When America begins to cave in on itself, a victim of its own excesses, those walls will keep anyone else from throwing it a lifeline.
Professor John Christopher Carpenter worked six years as an editor and reporter in newspapers in the United States and Korea before accepting a position in the Ewha Division of Media Studies in 2009. He teaches English journalism, Media and Society and Global Journalism. His interests include reading, writing, family, religion and outdoors.You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.