Spain wants to ditch ties and other ways to beat the heat: NPR


A man uses a hand fan in a park in central Madrid during a heat wave.

Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images


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Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images

Spain wants to ditch ties and other ways to beat the heat: NPR

A man uses a hand fan in a park in central Madrid during a heat wave.

Thomas Coex/AFP via Getty Images

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Heat waves can mark the end of the tie. It’s been a long time coming. Fashion critics have been predicting the demise of the tie for decades. Second, the pandemic hasn’t made it any easier for the classic suit-and-tie style. Today, the once mighty emblem of white-collar work has suffered an international setback. It came in the form of a bold new mandate from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who is trying to get his country to ditch its ties.

The announcement was made on a sweltering day in late July as a historic heat wave engulfed much of Western Europe. Proudly sporting his own open collar, Sánchez told government ministers to leave their ties at home, and he asked Spanish business leaders to enforce the same decree in their companies.

“That means we can all save energy,” he explained.

The Spaniards blew up the air conditioning. Sánchez wants them to look for other ways to relax.

The Spanish government is responding to sudden cuts in gas shipments from Russia by setting limits on air conditioning and reducing energy consumption. Businesses are being asked to keep temperatures at tropical 80 degrees Fahrenheit, a tough sell when it’s 95 degrees outside, even in areas that rarely experience that kind of heat. Nixing the tie is Sánchez’s way of making the request a bit more refreshing.

Spain is not the only country needing a break. Extreme heat is increasingly common around the world. From Shanghai to Texas, summer has hit us with a new vengeance. As more and more people seek a break from the sun, we are looking for ways to stay cool all over the world.

travel advice

ShadeMap of New York City.
ShadeMap of New York City.

ShadeMap is a handy and fun tool for tracking shadows through buildings or local natural terrain in different countries. Summer travelers can use it to plan the perfect shaded break around the world.

Global Culture Recommendations

At Salvatore Basil’s Cool: How Air Conditioning Changed Everything is a deep dive into the surprising history of artificial cooling. Originally developed and widely adopted in the United States, A/C is on the rise in Asian countries and around the world. Basile is a fine observer of the evolution of mentalities vis-à-vis the “cold machine”. Often seen as a frivolous luxury in the early 20th century, it is now seen as a lifeline when temperatures exceed the human body’s ability to cool itself.

A/C is far from a perfect solution. The refrigerants used in many units are exacerbating climate change, adding an ironic twist to a device with a big role to play in a warming planet.

Illustration of how someone beats the heat.
Illustration of how someone beats the heat.

International shipments from NPR

From grass curtains hanging over doorways to swamp coolers, there are alternatives to air conditioning. “Life hacks from India on how to stay cool” by Dr. Gulrez Shah Azhar is an introduction to beating the heat without having to turn on a unit. This piece of NPR Goats and soda blog is based on the wisdom of someone who knows high temperatures well.

From our archives

Nothing beats warm weather like a frozen treat. Folu Akinkuotu’s Unsnackable newsletter is a delicious guide to global snacking. From the combination of iced coffee and lemonade granita sold in Japanese Starbucks to medieval-themed ice cream from Estonia, flipping through past volumes of the newsletter takes the reader to a new world of tastes and flavors. Discover the story of Folu in this Coarse translation episode.

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