What Would Happen If Oxygen Levels DOUBLED?

  • Published on:  5/13/2020
  • Hi, it’s Katrina! The Earth’s oxygen levels are dropping, but what if the opposite were to happen, and the world’s atmospheric oxygen levels doubled? From enormous bugs to easier travel, here are 10 things you could possibly expect!

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    10. Increased Biodiversity & Growth
    As insects and other creatures inhaled more oxygen, they would inevitably grow and become more varied. In fact, it’s happened before. Fluctuations in atmospheric oxygen started long before humans existed. Between 485 and 445 million years ago, during the Ordovician Period, oxygen levels increased threefold, reaching modern levels around 455 million years ago.

    9. Increased Stamina & Immune System
    Oxygen plays a critical role in human strength and stamina because it helps your body transform stored energy, or glycogen, into glucose, which acts as fuel for your muscles. Having more oxygen available with each breath would mean more of it traveling effortlessly to your lungs, blood, and the rest of your body, giving you enhanced energy and agility.

    8. More Forest Fires
    Unfortunately, a higher atmospheric oxygen level would mean a more combustible atmosphere. After all, oxygen fuels fire, and this would bode disaster for greenery. Forest fires would be massive and unimaginably difficult to combat, and in a world where they already spread too easily, the damage would be utterly devastating.

    7. Exhaustion & Oxygen Toxicity
    While there are some good things that might happen to our mind and body with more oxygen, there would be some negative effects, as well. If you took in more oxygen with each breath, your metabolism would increase. This sounds great, right? After all, having a high metabolism is commonly associated with having an easier time staying thin -- a side effect many of us wouldn’t mind.

    6. Effects On Photosynthesis?
    One scientific theory holds that a heightened oxygen level would have an inhibiting effect on photosynthesis due to the lower concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that would come along with it. As a result, the landscape would become more prehistoric, with plants like mushrooms and mosses proliferating while green vegetation would become less common.

    5. Travel To Higher Elevations
    If you’ve ever had altitude sickness, you know how unpleasant it is, and in some cases, it can even be fatal. Put simply, if you travel too high without being properly acclimated to the decreased oxygen levels, you can suffer serious ailments like hypoxia and dehydration. People with cardiopulmonary disease are at especially high risk of the potentially serious effects of high altitude.

    4. Ease Of Flight
    With oxygen levels doubled, atmospheric air density would increase, enabling planes and birds to fly at higher altitudes and to remain airborne for longer time periods. The atmosphere would also become thicker, scattering more sunlight and making the sky appear bluer, and the air temperature would decrease.

    3. Fuel Efficiency
    When you hear the term “fuel efficiency,” you probably automatically think of it as a good thing, right? We’re programmed to see it that way, and for understandable reasons, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

    2. Altered Climate
    For a long time, scientists became so preoccupied with atmospheric carbon dioxide propelling climate change, they made the mistake of downplaying oxygen’s potential role in climate change and how it has affected this phenomenon in the past.

    1. The Great Oxidation Event
    Around 2.4 billion years ago, a mass extinction called the Great Oxidation Event occurred, also called the Great Oxygenation Event. A 2018 study by researchers from the University of Washington shows that hundreds of millions of years before this happened, oxygen levels on Earth rose and fell several times, suggesting that the presence of oxygen on our planet results from a process that repeatedly tried and failed over a long time period.