The road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games has been a rocky one, but now, during the time of year when the games are planned to be held, the extreme heat has many thinking of ways to prevent references to a “death toll” while looking back on the 2020 Games.
One plan that the Environment Ministry is currently floating past people is a variation of the Cool Share initiative. Essentially the Cool Share program is a way for people to easily find public air conditioned spaces to visit rather than staying home and using theirs.
Additionally, during the marathon events of the 2020 Olympics, the Ministry is looking into whether shops and office buildings are willing to run their air conditioners while opening doors and windows in the first floor to let the cool air waft out into the blistering heat of the street.
This isn’t such a radical idea in Japan where shops have been known to do this to entice passers by. In fact you might even find the occasional small business with an AC unit installed on the front.
However, this Olympic-sized plan is far more ambitious. In addition to scheduling an early start time of 7 a.m., they are considering having as many workplaces and businesses located along the course as possible turn on their air conditioners and the same time and open their doors and windows to help cool down the spectators.
On Aug 2, they held a survey to gauge how people would feel about such a plan, and to see if businesses were willing to open during the event and share their air conditioning. One respondent to the survey told NHK, “I’d like people of all ages to enjoy the marathon in Tokyo, young and old, so I would like Cool Share to go ahead.”
Netizens, on the other hand, had a much different opinion.
“Are they serious?”
“All right, let’s just fire up all those nuclear power plants again.”
“Cool Sharing? lol”
“Did the heat make them stupid?”
“Of course, the obvious way to protect people is to change the time. But can’t do that, because there’s too much money tied up now and that’s more important than safety.”
“I hope no one dies during the marathon. That would really suck.”
Although full of passion, these comments don’t go into detail about the inherent flaws of Cool Share.
First off, even with the apparent energy efficiency Japanese air conditioners often boast, the power consumption for such a large scale plan would be off the charts.
Also, despite their name, the Environment Ministry appears to have a poor grasp of how air conditioners work. They seem to think magic ice pixies turn the air cold, but in actuality the ice pixies’ magic is still bound by the laws of thermodynamics and don’t eliminate hot air. Rather they remove it from the users’ area and put it somewhere else.
Anyone who has ever walked past the side of a building, truck, or car, will no doubt have experienced this in the form of a blast of hot air enough to temporarily shut down certain brain functions.
To give a better sense of how all this would work during a marathon Cool Share, we ran a computer simulation on our state-of-the-art systems and came up with this theoretical cross-section of the marathon route.
As you can see in this diagram, in order to produce the desired effect, the ACs would have to be cranked obscenely high, causing those inside the buildings to experience unusually frigid temperatures (1).
Meanwhile, those who have come to the marathon route to watch about a tenth of a race that they could have easily seen in its entirety on TV, will be treated to pleasant conditions (2). The runners themselves would only get minimal benefits from this, but anyone who takes part in a marathon is an inherent masochist anyway, so it shouldn’t matter much to them (3).
The rest of Tokyo will experience the usual intense heat (4), but on the outer perimeter of the course. The cumulative exhaust of all those air conditioners would create what a “dead zone” (5), which is so hot that only ghosts and space bears can survive in it.
Furthermore, when looking at the marathon, there appear to be several partially enclosed segments.
In conclusion, the Cool Share solution to the Olympic heat problem is recklessly wasteful at best, and we should avoid it altogether and just hold the darn race at night.
Source: NHK News Web, My Game News Flash
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