It has taken some time for me to publish anything about the summer heat - mostly because I have been enjoying it. That warm and humid feeling is not a bad thing, it is natural and I am really surprised at who has the most trouble with it. Unlike in previous posts where I highlight the difficulties that different generations have with technology the air conditioning craze is more economic. It is the comfortable middle class that has the most difficulty without it.
Wealthy Canadians seem to have dealt with the heat in more constructie ways, by using their money wisely - investing in summer properties near the water or farther north, and the Canadians hardest hit by the recession have switched off non-essentials (If you feel as though your debt load has peaked and you're still shivering, turn it off now.). It is the comfortable middle zone that engages in the most unidirectional consumption, dishing out billions of dollars on energy to power their cooling systems. That money is never coming back, it is not making them healthier, and the noise pollution can be as bad as vuvuzela competitions. Aside from all that, I believe this luxury is deserved to all those that can afford air conditinoing but can't afford to get away from urban and suburban heat.
There are some solutions that we need to look at to make urban spaces more acceptable for all people. It may be time to bring back the trees alongside the warmest roads, to provide natural heat blocking. Aside from my disbelief regarding A/C I also believe the best sunscreen is none - wear appropriate attire and visit safe locations on high UV days. More tree cover and pavillions would expand this realm and promote the outdoor spaces in your city (which can help bring new customers into small and medium businesses.
Public fountains - both the grand picturesque and the small drinking varieties can aid urban spaces by keeping people and the spaces they are in naturally cool. Wait, before you accuse me of wasting space with a grand fountain you should know why. In most old cities where fountains have remained a part of the local tradition it was a place to stop for a drink (new water spouts only), wash your feet and hands after a long voyage, or natual cooling zone. The city of Welland recently installed what they are calling a fountain into the 'gazing pond' in front of city hall. It is flawed. It recycles the water for show only, with no drinking zone. It is off limits to everyone, due to the fact that they recycle the water - liabilities remain. The fountain is unshaded on the Southern side of the plaza - meaning that the water will pick up heat and produce humid moisture rather than cooling the area. To fix Wellands fountain - cycle water from the canal, allow access for wading (but ban soap and additives), provide a drinking fountain with a downward facing spout for bottle carriers.
It's not difficult to beat the heat, but it is difficult to make changes and everyone has to ask their neighbours, city, and nation to support them in their effort to be cool.