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The Class Struggle in the Globally Warmed French Countryside


What is the market for an op-ed by a rich white woman talking about escaping the European heat wave in her own personal cave and why did the New York Times see fit to publish it?

My air-conditioning is unconventional: I live in a cave, or actually a group of interconnected caves, known in local parlance as a “maison troglodyte.” My troglodyte comprises five caves of varying size, one of which — my “cottage” — I rent out each summer.

She goes on to talk about her cave, whatever, it is indeed hard to be a member of the global elite, whatever. But then, this:

In France, as in the rest of Europe, fewer than 5 percent of homes have air-conditioning. Cost is a huge factor. Taxes and add-on charges send electricity rates through the roof, even though 75 percent of electric energy generated in France comes from nuclear plants. Surtaxes include contributions to green energy development, pensions for public utility workers and a 20 percent value-added tax. All of these amount to an effective tax of more than 50 percent (the number varies somewhat from place to place). I paid 66 percent in taxes on my electric consumption last year.

Humans have lived in caves in this region since the Middle Ages. Work in and around them dates from when the local limestone was quarried to build the ubiquitous abbeys and chateaus for which the Loire Valley is renowned. Villages sprang up, complete with domed brick and stone ovens. Stonecutters fashioned their own dwellings on site.

Moving the entire population of France into cavehomes is not a practical solution to the next heat wave. Stringent local and regional laws make new development in abandoned caves, and further excavation of existing caves, close to impossible.

If I were a betting woman, though, I would wager that my quirky choice of home becomes a trend.

Moving the entire population of France into caves is “not a practical solution.” Yeah, I’d say that’s an understatement. And I don’t think regulations on drilling back into caves is the real issue here.

I for one look forward to a France where the rich spend their summers in caves while the masses, many of whom provide the labor that makes the luxurious lifestyles of the French elite possible, bake and die in the cities. This is definitely a solution to the climate crisis!

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