Every summer and winter the air changes, right? Cold gets hot and hot gets cold again. However, there’s a lot more going on in our atmosphere between the seasons than you might realize. Although less noticeable than leaves falling, or jackets piling up on coat racks, shifts in carbon dioxide and seasonal pollution both have a profound effect on the air we breathe.
We depend on the sun’s energy to sustain life on Earth. Greenhouse gases, like water vapor, nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide, absorb the sun’s heat and warm our planet. According to NASA, CO2 is one of the most detrimental of greenhouse gases. Much of the atmosphere’s CO2 is absorbed by plants through the process of photosynthesis, removing high concentrations from the atmosphere.
While CO2 has long been a naturally occurring and integral gas in our atmosphere, levels have spiked in recent modern times — and worryingly so. Human activities like deforestation, changes in how we use land, and the burning of fossil fuels to produce energy have caused C02 levels to increase by a third since the industrial revolution. This excess is proving to be extraordinarily harmful to our carefully balanced climate. By adding excessive CO2 to the atmosphere, we trap more heat and trigger global warming. CO2 also makes the oceans more acidic, affecting a variety of ocean life.
So, how does all this change from season to season?
When air changes from summer to winter, the colder temperatures force plants to shed their leaves and ultimately die which also means they are absorbing less CO2. This contributes to more CO2 in the air by virtue of naturally occurring seasonal changes, and then our natural response to the colder weather causes changes in our behavior that also impact CO2 variations.
As the cold weather approaches, we find ourselves less interested in active transport like walking or biking. We turn our thermostats up, and use more energy from light bulbs in the winter, thus ushering more CO2 into the air. There are many ways we can use clean energy to help curb the influx of CO2 emissions as the air changes from winter to summer.
When the cold weather hits, try cuddling in a warm blanket or sweater before cranking up the thermostat.Replace your old incandescent light bulbs with LED light bulbs. According to Energy.gov, LED light bulbs use 25-85% less energy than incandescent light bulbs. Those figures go a long way in CO2 reduction.Even if walking or biking are not viable options where you live, consider carpooling or taking public transportation.Add insulation and weather stripping to your house, which will keep the cold air out and the thermostat down, greatly reducing CO2 emissions
So, while the seasons change, why not take the opportunity to change old habits? Every shift in our daily behavior that favors renewable energy has a significant impact on our global sustainability efforts. Once you see the difference these minor changes can make, implementing new behaviors with a new mindfulness will become as natural as breathing.