Another problem that will likely begin causing major problems is oxygen depletion. This is caused by a number of man-made problems, including desertification, larger and larger “dead zones” in the oceans, cutting of old forest and rain forest for wood and/or to grow crops without nearly the oxygen-producing plant matter, our continuing to burn more and more fossil fuels and thus “oxygenating” their carbon. Along with the Carbon dioxide and Carbon monoxide increase comes lowered levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. The “dead zones” correspond with a severe decrease in the number of phytoplankton, which provide 40% of the earth’s atmospheric oxygen, measured at a decrease of 1% per year since 1950. Then you combine that with rainforest depletion which provides a significant portion of the rest… and you don’t have a
According to The Oxygen Crisis
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 potentially serious implications for our health. Indeed, it could ultimately threaten the survival of human life on earth, according to Roddy Newman, who is drafting a new book, The Oxygen Crisis.
Professor Robert Berner of Yale University has researched oxygen levels in prehistoric times by chemically analysing air bubbles trapped in fossilised tree amber. He suggests that humans breathed a much more oxygen-rich air 10,000 years ago.
Oxygen levels are generally 21% of the earth’s atmosphere globally, although this number drops to 19% in many areas, and as low as 12% over major industrialized cities. (Professor Ervin Laszlo)
More people are using oxygen cannisters than ever before, because the oxygen levels in their environment are too low to adequately sustain them. Consider: How many people are you seeing in public carrying oxygen bottles as compared to how many you saw 30 years ago. It’s a LOT higher, even comparing the same groups (elderly, heart patients, lung patients, etc). Of course, more people are surviving diseases that they did not a few decades ago, but most of those “miraculous survivors” are not seen in public. No, your great grandma didn’t need oxygen when she died 30 years ago. Your grandma though has been using it for years. Even young people with health concerns, like recent pneumonia, are using oxygen!
Oxygen levels of under 6% in the atmosphere will not sustain life. As oxygen levels lower, there won’t even be much to concentrate for oxygen bottles. At least not for a few billion years until the sun reaches its “oxygen cycle”.
Depletion of oxygen has been created by humans, to get more stuff, faster and better (as they told me in my grade school propaganda film). It will reverse if humans stop…. stop clearcutting, stop desertification, stop producing dead zones in oceans. Other human-caused problems, including acid rain, exasperates these problems.
This is not a new problem. It has been accelerating since about 1800, the start of the Industrial Revolution . Baron Kelvin of Largs wrote a scholarly paper, On the End of Free Oxygen in 1901. The fundamentals of Lord Kelvin’s issues have not changed, but have greatly accelerated.
A question is can we stop all of this at the current population level? Peak oxygen appears to be long past.
Mass hypoxia, the ensuing confusion, then panic, and finally mass asphyxiation is one of the least appealing ways for humankind to go.