Air conditioning, sometimes necessary and sometimes about status, has made it possible for us to live almost anywhere in the world, but its effects on the environment are "chilling". "Now, air conditioning guzzles 15 per cent of total American energy consumption, higher than any other country, using the same amount of fossil fuel as the whole of Africa employs for all its energy needs. Global air-conditioning demands cannot be quantified, but this summer's high temperatures have prompted a surge in air con sales in China, for example. ... 'When you look at the technologies that have changed our world over 50 years, like cars, and computers, and TV, we have debated their costs and benefits. But air conditioning has been humming in the background the whole time,'" says one researcher.