The rise in carbon dioxide emissions is big news. It’s prompting action to reverse global warming before we reach a catastrophic tipping point, but little or no attention is being paid to the long-term fall in oxygen concentrations – and that really has us freaking out.
For the most part, Climate Change is widely accepted as a concern that needs immediate attention if humanity wishes to continue living on planet Earth for the next coming decades. There is, however, another seemingly hidden issue that has been creeping it’s way into existence and that’s the dropping oxygen levels around the globe.
For this reason, it is important to completely alter the argument and attack Climate Change by using facts that nobody could deny, even if they wanted to.
Humans (and pretty much every living thing on this planet) requires oxygen to survive; There’s is no denying that. If you have trouble grasping this concept, put a bag over your head and see how you feel after a few minutes.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a Respiratory Protection Standard in regards to employee environments stating that Oxygen levels are not to go under 19.5% because it poses a risk for the worker’s health, due to oxygen deficiency. Currently Global Oxygen percentages are at 20.95% and dropping.
Compared to prehistoric times, the level of oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere has declined by over a third and in polluted cities the decline may be more than 50%. This change in the makeup of the air we breathe has serious potential negative health impacts.
Around 10,000 years ago, the planet’s forest cover was at least twice what it is today, which means that forests are now emitting only half the amount of oxygen. Continual Deforestation is rapidly accelerating this long-term loss of oxygen sources.
When Oxygen levels drop below 19.5% oxygen, the air is considered oxygen-deficient. At concentrations of 16% to 19.5%, humans engaged in any form of exertion can rapidly become symptomatic as their tissues fail to obtain the oxygen necessary to function properly. Increased breathing rates, accelerated heartbeat, and impaired thinking or coordination occur more quickly in an oxygen-deficient environment. Concentrations of 12% to 16% oxygen levels also cause tachypnea (increased breathing rates), tachycardia (accelerated heartbeat), and impaired attention, thinking, and coordination.
At oxygen levels of 10% to 14%, faulty judgment, intermittent respiration, and exhaustion can be expected even with minimal exertion. Breathing air containing 6% to 10% of oxygen results in nausea, vomiting, lethargic movements, and perhaps unconsciousness. Breathing air containing less than 6% oxygen produces convulsions, then apnea (cessation of breathing), followed by cardiac standstill – and these symptoms occur immediately. Even if a person survives the hypoxic insult, organs may show evidence of hypoxic damage, which may be irreversible.
Evidence from prehistoric times indicates that the oxygen content of pristine nature was above the 21% of total volume that it is today. It has decreased in the recent times due mainly to the burning of coal in the middle of the last century. Currently the oxygen content of the Earth’s atmosphere dips to 19% over impacted areas, and it is down to 12 to 17% over the major cities. At these levels it is difficult for people to get sufficient oxygen to maintain bodily health; It takes a proper intake of oxygen to keep healthy body cells and organs, and the entire immune system all functioning at full efficiency.
The main issue is that we are using up more oxygen than is being put back into the atmosphere. This means every coal plant, 1.2 billion cars on the road and all other energy sources that burn fuel to produce electricity are using up our precious oxygen supply. This is equivalent to having one extremely large fire that is continuously burning at an alarming rate. You can relate this to a candle burning and having someone put a cover over the flame; Eventually the flame will go out, because it’ll consume all of the oxygen inside the confined space. This is what is happening to the earth, but on a much larger scale.
The Professor of Geological Sciences at Notre Dame University in Indiana, J Keith Rigby, was quoted in 1993-1994 as saying:
“In the 20th century, humanity has pumped increasing amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning the carbon stored in coal, petroleum and natural gas. In the process, we’ve also been consuming oxygen and destroying plant life – cutting down forests at an alarming rate and thereby short-circuiting the cycle’s natural rebound. We’re artificially slowing down one process and speeding up another, forcing a change in the atmosphere.”
So, the main argument that needs to be made with Climate Change deniers is that regardless of what they think about climate change, whether it’s a hoax made by the Chinese, or that weather is weather: You cannot deny the fact that our current methods of energy production are going to suffocate everyone. It no longer makes climate change a debatable theory. It solidifies it into a solid fact that every living thing on earth can understand on a primitive level, choking is a scary and uncomfortable thing and to avoid this, we need sustainable methods of energy production, and with it, the world will begin to heal its self. You cannot sit in your living room with a diesel engine running in the kitchen and not expect to start choking.
We need to be vocal about what is important, and not let corporate greed dictate the policies that will only further damage our world. Consider doing your part by joining planting events, and being conscious of your environment by recycling and minimizing waste.
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