almost 20 percent of electricity consumption in U.S. homes goes to AC -- that's as much electricity as the entire continent of Africa uses for all purposes.
Basically, large parts of the US would be uninhabitable were it not for air-conditioning. The same goes for Saudi Arabia and several other places.
It has allowed us to put cities in very fragile ecological zones like the desert area where Phoenix is, or the fringes of the Everglades, or actually out into the Everglades now in South Florida. We build up these big Sun Belt cities on the assumption of air-conditioning, so there's limited green space. The heat island effect becomes pretty overwhelming -- all the asphalt, concrete, and steel are trapping heat that's then released throughout the night. In Phoenix you can easily have a lot of nights where the temperature never drops below 90, while in the normal desert climate you get a big drop in temperature.
Until we get sensible and abandon Texas, we'll just have to accept that the Western lifestyle will sink islands and drown poor brown people. We're too selfish to do anything about it, like change our way of life or adopt clean technology. Changing costs money. The status quo only costs lives. Other people's lives, which appear not to count.