Normal people and decision-makers know still little about their options to adapt to heat waves

It strikes me always to see how little awareness and practical knowledge is with people, house owners, enterprises or operators. With the nice summer weather in the centre and northern part of Europe over the last weeks, I had quite some reminders where we stand in everyday reality: ...

  • I was suffering in a very hot bus in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It was a modern vehicle and equipped with air conditioning, but the driver has opened the ceiling flap instead and made the air condition completely useless. Probably, nobody had trained him how to reduce the temperature in the bus effectively. What is this expansive, super modern bus of use, if not operated properly?

  • I arrived for a holiday in Copenhagen and took the fully automated metro to the city centre. Inside it was incredibly hot! A bit later, I read in the newspaper that the metro company had declined to include air conditioning when ordering the trains. And now? Trains and other infrastructure are supposed to hold for several decades; hence, a change afterwards can be quite costly if possible at all. Solutions are there; trains are also operated well in regions with hot climate, but we lack the awareness and imagination of the responsible persons to consider such climate change challenges that will even increase in the future. 

  • With friends in Denmark, it was hot in their apartments as well. While I shut out the sun on hot days in my apartment with outside blends, they simply do not have such, just some light curtains. It is a cultural issue. Light is scarce in winter and Danes seem to wish as much light as possible. The more the better. This May and June, they suffered because of a long heat wave, something that they will experience more frequent. But shutting the sun out, like in Southern European countries? Never! My friends can hardly imagine doing this. It would be too dark inside!

Well, it is not about blaming my Danish friends. The picture shows, also in Germany some have “forgotten” the blinds when building their house. But the market has solutions!? A recent advertisement promises effective cooling with small air conditioning blocks. You should not feel guilty, because the device has energy class A, it says. Come on! 2000 Watt per hour for cooling 60 square metres?! Is that little if you could hold down the temperature already with passive measures? But people start to buy these devices. Is that the solution of the future? Will we fight one evil with another?  Or will we hurry to start teaching people on their options before they build or renovate houses, infrastructure or machines, where they can still chose low cost and more effective solutions to adapt to heat?