There’s something you can do in about thirty seconds that will raise your effective intelligence by about 15%: open a window.
Why? Well, have you ever tried to breath into a plastic bag?
It’s suffocating. In two or three breaths the air gets thick, hot, and humid. Your heart rate will start going up as panic sets in. If you don’t get a breath of fresh air, within seconds it’s likely you’ll pass out, and within minutes you’ll die.
The reason your body needs to breath fresh air is similar to the reason a candle can’t burn if you smother it. Fire and celular metabolism both consume oxygen and exhale CO2. If Oxygen is too low or CO2 is too high, fire and life go out.
Now imagine I make the plastic bag bigger. It’s so big you can step inside it but it’s still sealed from outside air. Your suffocation will be much slower now. It’s possible you don’t even notice the thickening air for several hours. If I poke some tiny holes in your big plastic bagl to let just a little fresh air in—enough to keep you alive—you might get used to the stale air.
Now look around the room you’re reading this in right now and find the tiny holes. Where is outside fresh air coming into the space you’re in?
You’re likely looking at the AC vents into the room, but oh boy I’ve got some bad news for you on how air conditioning systems work. The cold (or hot) air coming in through those vents isn’t coming from outside (that’d be a waste of energy)—the air coming through those vents is recirculated from indoor air. Air conditioning systems are about as effective as a desk fan in bringing in fresh air.
Humans have gotten impressively good at building air-tight structures. If you’re currently in a room that was built in the past hundred years, chances are good that you’re slowly suffocating in a fancy plastic bag.
But who cares, right? You’ve been living most of your life indoors with only the occasional open window. Indoor mostly-sealed rooms are where you’ve ate, slept, and gone to school/work. “Suffocating” seems a bit harsh—you probably feel pretty good right now.
TODO: the rest of this post lol
|[Is CO2 an Indoor Pollutant? Direct Effects of Low-to-Moderate CO2 Concentrations on Human Decision-Making Performance||Environmental Health Perspectives||Vol. 120, No. 12](https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp.1104789)|
|[Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments||Environmental Health Perspectives||Vol. 124, No. 6](https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp.1510037)|