Representative Paul Broun says clean energy legislation will cause electricity prices to rise, which will make it too expensive to run air conditioning, and people will die of hyperthermia. Joe Romm types it out:
A lot of old people in Georgia and Florida and all out through the southeast and southwest they're depending upon air condition just to live. And if their electricity goes sky high, and the energy bill is gonna make that happen if it ever passes. And a lot of people aren't gonna be able to afford to run their air condition anymore. And a lot of people are gonna have a hard time with, hyperthermia is what we call in medicine as a medical doctor, their body temperature is gonna go up. They're gonna get dehydration and people are gonna have a lot of problems and it's gonna have a greater impact on our health care system and people are gonna die because of that.
Ignoring the fact that, as Joe puts it, "the House's clean energy legislation would not merely help avoid catastrophic global warming but creates a vast pool of money that will be invested in energy efficiency, lowering people's energy bills and making them less likely to lose their air-conditioning for lack of money", there are ways that one can reduce dependence on air conditioning, even in Georgia. People did live there before it was invented.
Gone with the Wind images via Hooked on Houses
A common trait of southern houses were porches, often continuous around the house. They shade the house and provide comfortable exterior spaces. Trees were often planted to shade the house as well.
People adjusted their activities to the time of the day, often napping at the hottest part of the afternoon.
Ceilings were high to let the heat rise, and windows were as well, double hung so that they could be lowered at the top to let the heat out.
If you didn't have the money to live like Scarlett O'Hara, you might live like Elvis, in a shotgun house, with a nice porch and cross-ventilation in every room. Rich or poor, the houses were designed to adapt to the climate, rather than depending on the constant feeding of an air conditioner.
More on design without air conditioning:
The Deluded World of Air Conditioning Revisited