21 votes

Europe’s Cities Weren’t Built for This Kind of Heat

5 comments

  1. [5]
    Adys
    Link
    (Copying over my comment from HN in a related thread) The northern half of europe (anywhere north of the mediteranean) really sucks at handling heat. In most of France, Belgium or Germany it's...

    (Copying over my comment from HN in a related thread)

    The northern half of europe (anywhere north of the mediteranean) really sucks at handling heat. In most of France, Belgium or Germany it's impossible to find apartments with ceiling fans or air conditioning.
    There's also no concept of central air conditioning anywhere in europe for non-commercial buildings, which is a big opportunity for improvement (especially in Greece where air conditioning is everywhere, looks disgusting in the streets and is less efficient than a central unit in summer).

    Possibly the worst offence in Germany and especially in Belgium is that you can't ask restaurants/bars for tap water. They'll refuse to serve you, and will ask you to buy bottled water. (Tap water is 100% safe, they just don't want to do the kindness)

    It's an especially absurd custom given that, you go west a few kilometers and pass the French frontier, every bar and restaurant is legally obligated to serve tap water for free whenever customers ask. In most mediterranean countries, it's not even a question of asking: You sit down, a waiter will bring you water, before you've even ordered.

    10 votes
    1. [4]
      imperialismus
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Well, the flipside is that anywhere south of Denmark sucks at handling cold, and especially snow. First snowfall is a disaster even though it happens every year, and subzero temperatures mean...

      Well, the flipside is that anywhere south of Denmark sucks at handling cold, and especially snow. First snowfall is a disaster even though it happens every year, and subzero temperatures mean shivering indoors because of improper insulation and poor heating. Now, due to climate change, extremes of both cold and heat are becoming more commonplace, and locations that are used to dealing with extremes of one kind now have to learn how to deal with another.

      I'm Scandinavian, and we like to mock our central and southern European friends for their terrible readiness for snow and cold. But now the shoe is on the other foot; I can honestly say that I'm not equipped to handle this heat. Just today, Norway equalled its all-time temperature record of 35.6C (set in 1970). My house doesn't have any A/C. Ventilation is designed to circulate the air so as to prevent it from getting stuffy and poorly oxygenated without losing excessive heat in the winter, not to cool anything down. I can't sleep with my duvet (too thick, which is appropriate for 350/365 days of the year), and I'm too used to it to sleep without it. At least I can get free tap water at restaurants.

      The thing is, according to weather forecasts, this week may be the only week of the year where this kind of heat is on. How do you prepare your houses and cities and societies for something that is expensive to deal with and potentially devastating if not prepared for, but only applies to 1 or 2 weeks of the year?

      This is the undercommunicated part of climate change: extremes of all kinds (heat, cold, drought, rain, wind) are getting more common. And it's very hard as a society to deal with the fact that extremes that used to be once a century are now almost a yearly occurrence, but at the same time, they only go on for a few scattered days of the year, so it seems hard to justify the expense of preparing for them in the same way as countries that deal with these issues for months every year.

      8 votes
      1. Loire
        Link Parent
        The HVAC companies are going to be kings in the coming years. If the lack of AC in Europe is as bad as people are saying that a huge opportunity.

        The HVAC companies are going to be kings in the coming years. If the lack of AC in Europe is as bad as people are saying that a huge opportunity.

        4 votes
      2. Sahasrahla
        Link Parent
        Something that helps on hot nights with no air conditioning: sleep in your underwear with a fan pointing at yourself. Fast moving air blowing on exposed skin can help you feel a lot cooler....

        Something that helps on hot nights with no air conditioning: sleep in your underwear with a fan pointing at yourself. Fast moving air blowing on exposed skin can help you feel a lot cooler. Doesn't help with missing a nice big blanket though.

        3 votes
      3. frostycakes
        Link Parent
        Just a thought for these times that got me through hot summers in a place without A/C: Fill a large bucket/storage bin/bathtub with cool water and set up a fan to blow over it-- you've got...

        Just a thought for these times that got me through hot summers in a place without A/C: Fill a large bucket/storage bin/bathtub with cool water and set up a fan to blow over it-- you've got yourself a makeshift evaporative cooler. It's not as good as a proper one, but it's better than nothing or a fan alone.

        2 votes