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How Air Conditioning Changed the World

Imagine we could control the weather – pushing a button to make it warmer or cooler, wetter or drier.

The implications would be enormous. No more droughts or floods, no heat waves or icy roads. Deserts would become verdant. Crops would never fail.

In fact climate change has sparked some crazy-sounding ideas for hacking the climate, such as spraying sulphuric acid into the upper atmosphere, or dumping quicklime in the oceans.

Clever as humans are, however, we’re nowhere near precision control of the weather. Outside, at least.

Since the invention of air conditioning, we have been able to control the weather inside, and that has had some some far-reaching and unexpected effects.

By Tim Harford
BBC World Service, 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

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