Warmth is a comfort that is by no means guaranteed or natural to always enjoy. I suppose a relatively small fraction of the Earth's total population can rely on a warm home. For some reason, it seems like something I've taken for granted. I'm not sure why, as the home I have grown up in was generally frigid throughout the winter months, often leading me to Do Nothing except huddle in blankets in front of a computer. I assume it was an influence in me doing very little homework at home, or playing so many video games. Yes, activity will help warm you, but moving leads to contact with the cold air, and staying more or less stationary while insulated in blankets helps create a nice pocket of trapped bodily warmth. Delightful!
However, while at university, I was generally blessed with Very Well insulated or heated accommodations (where the utilities were included), or a room so small my computer would leave things toasty. I suppose I became somewhat used to heated comfort. Visiting home, I would start to remark on the cold. My father is well insulated bodily, but I am scrawny and was not. I am sure all my friends have remarked upon it during the winter season. "It's warmer in the snow," some might say. I should have moved into an igloo.
In 2008, I found the cold to be debilitating while living in a basement. The cold, among other dreary basement factors, infringed upon my happiness and comfort in a way not before recognised. Yikes. Now, though, I'm in a room relatively poorly insulated. On a good note, we have an oil heater that we rely on in our room to allow our digits to move. (A few days spent hiding from the world and with fingers that were growing numb quickly eroded my inhibitions against power consumption.) We have yet to see an electricity bill, and it probably will be ugly. However, half of it is covered by the landlord, and the remaining half is split 4 ways. So, 1/8th of the total usage of the house will hopefully be not very bad. Hopefully we're also won't be the greatest contributor to it. At least there's two of us sharing the heat from one heater in here :)
I wonder whether it would be a worthwhile goal to try and establish comfortable conditions for all, as far as warmth goes, and what that would entail. The alternative, adapt to what's natural, makes sense. But if we can all be comfortable and warm, why not?
I'm not sure that we can. Consistent warmth for everyone who is suffers from the cold will probably require a lot of energy. Enough energy to counter the natural elements plaguing people. In severe winters, all the more energy is required. Sure, we can probably generate enough electricity, but will that affect climate? If carbon and other green house gases are produced while generating all that electricity, it would probably put us in a situation worse than we might now be in. Regardless of climate change, there's regular pollution. China apparently has severe issues with pollution resulting from their coal plants. Besides heat from electricity, we can also popularly get it from natural gas and oil. Allegedly, those will eventually be in short supply. At the very least, the price isn't the most stable, and can become very expensive. Finally, how do we get the heat to many people? What about areas where electricity isn't reliable? Will they be reliant on oil or natural gas?
So, here are some considerations to make it more viable:
- Improve structures' insulation to ensure that they can retain as much of the heat they have.
- Try to use cleaner forms of energy to prevent pollution and excess carbon.
- Have smarter systems to help prevent waste. Like, a house that could detect windows left open and close them or notify someone to close them, would be good.
- Try to provide efficient heating systems that don't rely on power mains, oil, or gas. (Try magic.)
So, be more efficient, minimising waste and by-products while maximising availability. Will this require massive production of new heaters to improve coverage or to replace inefficient systems or improve insulation? Production and the requisite consumption of resources might also be undesirable depending on the availability and renewability of the resources, and the by-products of the production.
I suppose this would be helped by some advances in technology. But, I suppose it doesn't really matter. Climate change and oil availability not withstanding, another key requirement that I think is probably lacking is interest. I don't think there's sufficient interest to try to ensure warmth for everyone who wants it. Right now, it seems like it's mostly up to the individual to try to secure warmth for themselves. Yes, there are government programmes to help the disadvantaged improve their homes insulation and organisations that try to ensure the availability of basic necessities. But until it becomes an almost trivial task, or until someone finally decides that the cost no longer outweights the glory of the achievement, I think general availability of heat, providing it for all people who could otherwise not afford it, will remain a dream, and I'll have to take it less for granted.