Oxygen, Breath and Stupidity

Oxygen we know is a heavier gas. Mountaineers know this when they climb above 5000 metres, breathing gets hard – because the Oxygen level is lower at these greater heights. To combat this people living at these heights, in the Andes or the Himalayas, have increased lung capacity to allow the lower levels of Oxygen to be more effectively absorbed. Oxygen is regularly carried on expeditions that invade these greater heights.

Carbon Dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases, is heavier still than Oxygen, which makes sense when we consider the make up of the two molecules. An Oxygen molecule is written as O2 ,while a Carbon Dioxide molecule is written as CO2 , meaning that besides the two Oxygen atoms there is also a Carbon atom combined with them. Carbon Monoxide is another heavier than Oxygen molecule even though this only combines one Oxygen atom in the molecule. This is the lethal gas which causes poisoning in humans. It does so by using up the Oxygen the body needs to survive, to create the more stable Carbon Dioxide molecule, thereby preventing the body from metabolising its processes which in turn would produce Carbon Dioxide, but do so while maintaining the life of the organism.

The Oxygen in the atmosphere is generated from two primary sources – the plankton of the oceans and the forests. Both of these sources are under dire threat. The plankton are being starved of the resources they need for their own processes by the oil slick covering the oceans through excessive use of oil-driven traffic.

The plight of the forests worldwide hardly needs mention so loud has been the protest across the globe for many years. However it is worth mentioning that the Siberian forests have taken centuries to grow to the small height the trees have attained. In comparison to the temperate or tropical forests these trees grow at an extremely slow rate. This means it will take centuries for the forests to become re-established should they ever be allowed to do so. At the same time the tropical forests are being plundered at a disheartening rate to produce cheap beef for burger companies the world over. As we know Beef production also releases vast quantities of methane – one of the by-products of which is Carbon Monoxide.

From the devastation of the forests we have a double whammy hitting our air supply. Firstly the trees are no longer producing the Oxygen we need to breathe, and secondly they are being replaced by a product which is dangerous in the extreme, not simply in terms of cancer-producing meats, but also in the release of a toxic gas in place of Oxygen.

The human race has been plagued with a pandemic through this last year which limits the breathing capacity of the sufferers. India alone is unable to provide the Oxygen needed for its population which is suffering with the biggest outbreak of the disease reported to date. Nature is fighting back.

But what does all this mean to the investor seeing his profits mounting daily and wishing to increase them? In the simplest of terms it means that he or she has no concern for the well-being of their children and grandchildren since the Oxygen which is being used up currently is depleting the supply available for the future. We are breathing tomorrow’s (our children’s) air, and using up the precious supply of Oxygen which will slowly slide down the mountain sides as the air becomes more and more rarified at these greater heights, until there is only a thin layer in which Oxygen prevails above the Carboniferous gases. These poisonous gases will fill the lowest areas, and the heights will have no Oxygen present as having been converted to Carbon Dioxide by the increasingly breathless population of the coming decades.

Since the investor in deforestation today is likely to form part of the generation of tomorrow this is indeed a short-sighted policy to pursue.

Author: Keith Armstrong

Dance teacher, writer, film-maker, educationalist, enthusiast.