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After Cooling: On Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort

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This dazzlingly original work of literary nonfiction interweaves the science and history of the powerful refrigerant (and dangerous greenhouse gas) Freon with a haunting meditation on how to live meaningfully and morally in a rapidly heating world. In After Cooling, Eric Dean Wilson braids together air-conditioning history, climate science, road trips, and philosophy to tel This dazzlingly original work of literary nonfiction interweaves the science and history of the powerful refrigerant (and dangerous greenhouse gas) Freon with a haunting meditation on how to live meaningfully and morally in a rapidly heating world. In After Cooling, Eric Dean Wilson braids together air-conditioning history, climate science, road trips, and philosophy to tell the story of the birth, life, and afterlife of Freon, the refrigerant that ripped a hole larger than the continental United States in the ozone layer. As he traces the refrigerant’s life span from its invention in the 1920s—when it was hailed as a miracle of scientific progress—to efforts in the 1980s to ban the chemical (and the resulting political backlash), Wilson finds himself on a journey through the American heartland, trailing a man who buys up old tanks of Freon stockpiled in attics and basements to destroy what remains of the chemical before it can do further harm. Wilson is at heart an essayist, looking far and wide to tease out what particular forces in American culture—in capitalism, in systemic racism, in our values—combined to lead us into the Freon crisis and then out. It’s a story that offers a rare glimpse of environmental hope, suggesting that maybe the vast and terrifying problem of global warming is not beyond our grasp to face.


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This dazzlingly original work of literary nonfiction interweaves the science and history of the powerful refrigerant (and dangerous greenhouse gas) Freon with a haunting meditation on how to live meaningfully and morally in a rapidly heating world. In After Cooling, Eric Dean Wilson braids together air-conditioning history, climate science, road trips, and philosophy to tel This dazzlingly original work of literary nonfiction interweaves the science and history of the powerful refrigerant (and dangerous greenhouse gas) Freon with a haunting meditation on how to live meaningfully and morally in a rapidly heating world. In After Cooling, Eric Dean Wilson braids together air-conditioning history, climate science, road trips, and philosophy to tell the story of the birth, life, and afterlife of Freon, the refrigerant that ripped a hole larger than the continental United States in the ozone layer. As he traces the refrigerant’s life span from its invention in the 1920s—when it was hailed as a miracle of scientific progress—to efforts in the 1980s to ban the chemical (and the resulting political backlash), Wilson finds himself on a journey through the American heartland, trailing a man who buys up old tanks of Freon stockpiled in attics and basements to destroy what remains of the chemical before it can do further harm. Wilson is at heart an essayist, looking far and wide to tease out what particular forces in American culture—in capitalism, in systemic racism, in our values—combined to lead us into the Freon crisis and then out. It’s a story that offers a rare glimpse of environmental hope, suggesting that maybe the vast and terrifying problem of global warming is not beyond our grasp to face.

56 review for After Cooling: On Freon, Global Warming, and the Terrible Cost of Comfort

  1. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    A compelling and trustworthy voice teaches us something complex and important. Wilson takes what has likely seemed like a no-brainer ("It's hot outside. I want to cool off. I will turn on the A/C.") and shows it in the broader context we too conveniently forget or ignore. The result is something powerful, empowering, and -- somehow -- absolutely beautiful in its presentation. Everyone should read it. A compelling and trustworthy voice teaches us something complex and important. Wilson takes what has likely seemed like a no-brainer ("It's hot outside. I want to cool off. I will turn on the A/C.") and shows it in the broader context we too conveniently forget or ignore. The result is something powerful, empowering, and -- somehow -- absolutely beautiful in its presentation. Everyone should read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Happy Skywalker

    I feel like everyone should read this book. I'm particularly thankful that this author is so aware of intersectionality and discusses how various topics effect people differently across different race, gender, and other variables. This is a very interesting topic, way more interesting to me than I thought it would be! I feel like everyone should read this book. I'm particularly thankful that this author is so aware of intersectionality and discusses how various topics effect people differently across different race, gender, and other variables. This is a very interesting topic, way more interesting to me than I thought it would be!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Manaster

    There were four themes here: History of air conditioning and cooling, the ozone and climate science, the story of the author and freon purchaser who sent it for destruction, and how air conditioning highlights racial disparities. Worthwhile read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Interesting History Marred By Marxist Politics And Alarmist Propaganda. In the description of this book, it is claimed that we will get a look at history, science, road trip, and philosophy as it relates to Freon and its history. Well, the philosophy is avowed Marxism (even quoting Marx directly to begin one of the sections) and the "science" is mostly alarmist "Global Cooling" / "Global Warming" / "Climate Change" junk wherein he cites in part some of the very studies that Stephen Koonin's Unse Interesting History Marred By Marxist Politics And Alarmist Propaganda. In the description of this book, it is claimed that we will get a look at history, science, road trip, and philosophy as it relates to Freon and its history. Well, the philosophy is avowed Marxism (even quoting Marx directly to begin one of the sections) and the "science" is mostly alarmist "Global Cooling" / "Global Warming" / "Climate Change" junk wherein he cites in part some of the very studies that Stephen Koonin's Unsettled - released just weeks earlier - shows to be problematic at best. And unlike Wilson, Koonin is an actual climate scientist, one who worked at a high level under Barack Obama, no less. Instead, Wilson outright declares that it is the stuff of nightmares to think that any form of warming is natural, that man *must* be the cause of *all* warming and that we *must* thus be able to stop it. These factors noted - and seriously, if you can't stomach a fatal dose of Marxist ideology, don't bother reading this book - the history presented here, even while presented fully rooted in anti-white, anti-capitalist screed form, is actually interesting and worthy of discovery by those who may not be aware of it, such as myself when going into this book. The road trip episodes that frame each section are interesting in and of themselves, as Wilson tags along with a friend who is buying up stockpiles of Freon American Pickers style in order to destroy them to claim the carbon credits under California's Cap and Trade system. There is a compelling story to tell in the need for better ways to cool and comfort, and there are promising techs and strategies that don't rely on Marxism and government mandate to achieve them. Unfortunately this book ignores all of this. Finally, the citations and bibliography... are minimal, for such fantastical claims, accounting for barely 15% of the text, and are rarely directly cited within the narrative itself. It is because of all of these factors that I am quite comfortable with the 2* - without the history and road trip, it would have been half even that - and would be lower than even that, were such possible on review sites. Not recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Timberlake

    (LISTENED TO AUDIOBOOK) The audiobook was read by the author, so I would like to start by saying: Eric Dean Wilson, I love you, and if you read this review, please PLEASE put me on your beta readers list because I just so thoroughly enjoyed your style and sense of humor. As for the book, I really enjoyed this! I thought it was just going to be a scientific rundown of Freon, but it was so much more. It delved into the socioeconomic implications of Freon versus non-Freon, as well as the racial, reg (LISTENED TO AUDIOBOOK) The audiobook was read by the author, so I would like to start by saying: Eric Dean Wilson, I love you, and if you read this review, please PLEASE put me on your beta readers list because I just so thoroughly enjoyed your style and sense of humor. As for the book, I really enjoyed this! I thought it was just going to be a scientific rundown of Freon, but it was so much more. It delved into the socioeconomic implications of Freon versus non-Freon, as well as the racial, regional, political and any gender factors associated with the use of AC through the years since its invention. All of this done in a way that it was clear the author is more liberal than not, but also clearly trying to maintain a fair stance against all political parties and their successes and failures with regulation to help the environment. Wilson made something highly complicated accessible, and I highly recommend this to anyone at the high school level or above.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Gorichanaz

    This book changed my perspective on comfort, convincing me the "ideal" inside climate is a myth (which seems obvious to anyone who has worked in an office, where half the people are too cold and half too warm). Worse, it's a myth started by big industry to sell products and pushed with the similar deceptive tactics later used by big tobacco and others: falsifying or distorting information and claiming it's scientific proof. This book changed my perspective on comfort, convincing me the "ideal" inside climate is a myth (which seems obvious to anyone who has worked in an office, where half the people are too cold and half too warm). Worse, it's a myth started by big industry to sell products and pushed with the similar deceptive tactics later used by big tobacco and others: falsifying or distorting information and claiming it's scientific proof.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    This book wanted to be a memoir but also a history book about freon. Two combination of history and memoir did not work well. Author jumps around too much and the reader stays confused or irritated.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pat Nelson

    Enjoyed, a book which fully embraces the idea that everything is connected and so to tell the story of one chemical, or solve one problem you actually have to consider everything.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Meg

    I really enjoyed the history and the challenge to our society’s comfort concept. I learned a lot and loved the writing.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    Interesting book. I had no idea freon could still be gotten. Sort of sad really; new Ac does NOT cool second floors. I was told to install window air conditioners in my upstair bedrooms by a number of HVAC guys. So much for comfort. On the up side, my basement can be used as a freezer... I am still not convinced of global warming due to any thing humanity has done. However, it is a well written and enlightening book that I think will support many peoples beliefs. Giving book a 4 star rating for Interesting book. I had no idea freon could still be gotten. Sort of sad really; new Ac does NOT cool second floors. I was told to install window air conditioners in my upstair bedrooms by a number of HVAC guys. So much for comfort. On the up side, my basement can be used as a freezer... I am still not convinced of global warming due to any thing humanity has done. However, it is a well written and enlightening book that I think will support many peoples beliefs. Giving book a 4 star rating for informing us freon still exists! Thank you, Mr. Wilson! I received a Kindle arc from Netgalley in exchnge for a fair review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael S

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy Boone

  14. 5 out of 5

    Todd

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jad

  16. 4 out of 5

    corkhead

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bri-zyReader

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Edward Robinson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Trisha

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kay

  22. 5 out of 5

    Travis

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Fleetwood

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Lazarus

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rāhul

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  27. 4 out of 5

    rachac

  28. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  29. 5 out of 5

    Johan

  30. 4 out of 5

    o. possum, esq.

  31. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

  33. 5 out of 5

    Diana Heald

  34. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  35. 5 out of 5

    Ian

  36. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Fushia

  37. 4 out of 5

    Abby

  38. 5 out of 5

    Pam Kellman

  39. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Nicholas

  40. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Holstrom

  41. 5 out of 5

    Jean

  42. 5 out of 5

    Gitanjali

  43. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  44. 4 out of 5

    José Oliveira

  45. 5 out of 5

    Rohit Khetan

  46. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

  47. 4 out of 5

    Alex Helm

  48. 4 out of 5

    Savannah

  49. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

  50. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  51. 4 out of 5

    Layla Johnston

  52. 5 out of 5

    Laura

  53. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

  54. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  55. 5 out of 5

    Karla

  56. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

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