By Waan Choi
It is a well-known truth that the earth’s climate is undergoing a rapid transformation. Though scientists discovered the correlation between carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and temperature in 1896, the gravity of solving climate change has not been stressed quite enough. However, despite the efforts made toward this important cause, the severity of climate change is yet on the rise and its effects have begun to reveal themselves in what was once a rigid natural cycle: seasons.
Climate change has been affecting seasons worldwide, and according to a study by Geophysical Research Letters, the length of summers has increased globally from 78 days in 1952 to 95 days in 2011, while the length of spring and autumn has decreased from 124 to 115 days and 87 to 76 days, respectively. The delay in the start of each season has caused significant harm to society, particularly for the agricultural sector. The situation is no different in Korea. For centuries, each of the four seasons has lasted three months in Korea. This year, however, our summer was longer than usual, and neither spring nor autumn lasted two months. The “false springs,” which refer to seasons with an earlier-than-normal start, confuses plants, and according to a study from KonKuk university, “the correlation between the starting dates of the spring phenological phases with mean temperature in March was relatively high” as the phenological growing season was extended by 5.3 days from 1989 to 2007. In other words, the change of seasons is also directly affecting the natural environment in Korea.
Seasons are created by the tilted characteristic of the earth’s spin axis, which causes the sun to directly face one side of the planet, while indirectly overlooking the other. For instance, in December, the northern hemisphere, therefore, goes through winter, while the southern hemisphere undergoes summer, as when the side of the planet points toward the sun, the season of summer arrives. Due to this attribute of the earth, for countries located near the equators, there is not much of a division between the seasons, but, for the rest, the seasons should be of approximately equal lengths. These equal lengths change over time as well, as the cycle of seasons alters naturally over time. According to a report from Laura Geggel, a reporter from the news website Live Science, the season of summer is arriving 30 seconds earlier each year as a result of precession, which is another characteristic caused by its axis, which makes the planet wobble in a top-like motion. However, the changes of these seasons are also directly correlated with the main effect of climate change, which is the increase in global temperatures.
Seasons have been on earth since the creation of the atmosphere and the planet’s orbit: it has been in its firm cycle for a long time, and it should remain adamantine and unbreaking as many parts of the planet are dependent on this natural phenomenon. Even though the seasons have been changing ever since the creation of the moon, huge shifts in its cycle will have huge impacts to society and our environment. Plants and many animals would not be able to function without a clear pattern in weather, also causing a huge disruption in the agricultural aspects of our society. Once the seasons start changing, there are no direct solutions that can reverse the changes that have already occurred. There are also no solutions to combat the seasonal changes directly, as in suddenly altering the season or changing the temperature, and the only way to stop these seasons mutating, is to address the exact cause of the problem which is the reduction of the temperature of the earth.
There are various means to lower the average temperature of the earth. According to the National Resources Defense Council, the most common and most simple solutions include investing in energy-efficient appliances and renewable energy—an easy step that individuals can take within their lives. On a macro scale, the government should make policies that advocate for environmental change, or allow society to be open to more changes to be made. The government should also prioritize saving the oceans, as the oceans slow greenhouse warming by absorbing excess heat and trapping carbon dioxide within the atmosphere. It is not an easy task to suddenly change the norms of society or our habits. However, to break these adamantine ties that society has with the causes of global warming, and gain the ones we had to the disappearing seasons, we must all want to change in the first place, even if changing meant inconvenience and the disruption of our old ways.