President Lee Myung-bak recently said he has managed to lower the room temperature by three degrees in his office after wearing additional underwear.
TMI, anyone? Actually, this bit of "news" is brought to us by our friends at the Korea Times, ever anxious to strip a story to its bare essentials, to dig inside the exterior of events and reveal what's underneath.
The story concerns a report from Korea's National Institute of Environmental Research that wearing thermal underwear has the effect of raising the thermostat by 2.4 degrees Celsius:
The researchers compared wearing long johns and sweatshirts in a room where the thermostat was set at 19.6 degrees.
The finding [sic] shows that thermal underwear traps bodily heat and has effects of bringing the room temperature up to 22 degrees.
"It means the longer and thicker underwear enable people to keep themselves warm at a lower room temperature," said Ryu Ji-wan, the institute's researcher.
Oh, sure, I suppose next they'll tell us that wearing a heavy coat outside during cold weather keeps you warm. I mean, it's pretty obvious, that's all I'm saying.
The article is apparently part of a campaign to lower thermostats in public buildings: "On a larger scale, lowering the thermostat by 2.4 degrees Celsius in public places alone could save up to 1.1 million tons of heating oil a year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 3.4 million tons, the institute said." You need about 2 billion pine trees to filter the CO2 from that, according to the article.
You may remember President Carter did this 30 years ago, mandating that federal buildings set their thermostats to 68 F (20 C) in the winter. Of course, once the oil embargo ended, no one seemed to care anymore.
I wish they would apply this principle to the interior of subway cars, which are kept quite warm in the winter, warm enough for shirt sleeves. But everyone is, of course, wearing their coats, sweaters and scarves. As a result, you can get really uncomfortably hot on a reasonably long ride.
The Ministry of Environment held fashion shows last year to portray fashionable ways of promoting warm underwear, and this year we have strange men accosting women in public places wearing their long johns and Santa caps.