Germany is swaying under a heat wave. Temperatures are expected to climb to the high 90s – a bigger deal when a country has little to no air conditioning.
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We are now going to Germany and surviving the first heat wave of the season. This weekend the temperatures are expected to rise to the high 90s. NPR’s Rob Schmitz says it’s especially high for a country where air conditioning just doesn’t matter.
ROB SCHMITZ, BYLINE: Berlin’s Andy Grub comes closest to air conditioning, this fountain across from his house.
ANDY GRUB: It’s horrible in my apartment now because the sun is shining through the window and the wall is getting hot. And it’s really awful.
SCHMITZ: He says that the country’s first heat wave comes earlier every year, and he suspects climate change to be the culprit. And while the temps rise for several days into the 90s and beyond, Germans like Grub are thinking more and more about air conditioning. The only places in Berlin that have it are grocery stores, movie theaters, and some of the most modern office buildings. But it’s traditionally viewed as extravaganza in this part of Europe, and Grub says he can’t afford it.
GRUB: No, it’s not that easy. It’s expensive and it uses a lot of electricity.
SCHMITZ: But there are other reasons why Germans don’t like air conditioning. Long-time Berliner Julia Abdullaeva, who also came to the neighborhood fountain today to keep a cool head, says the air conditioners look awful sticking out of 18th-century buildings. And more importantly, many Germans believe that AC is making you and the earth sick.
JULIA ABDULLAEVA: The air is too dry, getting too dry because of the air conditioning. And it is – all of this is very, very bad for the environment.
SCHMITZ: But Berlin’s Carson Hoth says that there is really only one reason why he doesn’t buy an air conditioner.
CARSON HOTH: Because you don’t need it. Just go to the beer garden.
SCHMITZ: He thinks Americans could use more beer gardens. He says when he visits the US he is amazed at how cold it is in summer.
HOTH: You’re freezing to death in America. They go into every office, every restaurant and freeze to death. This is how they go out in Florida – short sleeves. And you go to a restaurant. First they serve you ice water (laughter). And then the air conditioning brings you to 17 degrees.
SCHMITZ: And yes, he says, every time he is in America in the summer he catches a cold from all the air conditioning. He says he usually can’t wait to return home, where the best remedy for the heat is open windows, a neighborhood fountain, and his local beer garden.
Rob Schmitz, NPR News, Berlin.
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