What If Oxygen Doubled in Earth’s Atmosphere?

What If Oxygen Doubled in Earth’s Atmosphere?

March 5, 2020 100 By Ewald Bahringer


Take a deep breath. We take 23,000 breaths a day; trying
to get oxygen to our brain and cells. Oxygen is essential to our survival. But it’s a only small percentage of
what’s in the air we breathe. So what if there was more of it? These are just a few of the things
we’d be dealing with if the Earth’s atmosphere had double the
amount of oxygen it has today. What else would happen? Our atmosphere contains about 20%
oxygen and roughly 78% nitrogen. Even though it’s not the most significant part
of our atmosphere, it is the most important. 90% of our energy comes from oxygen,
with the rest being from food and water. You wouldn’t be able to watch this video without
oxygen, you wouldn’t be able to do anything. That’s because you wouldn’t be alive. And, not only is oxygen essential
for humans, it’s vital to all life on Earth. Now, what would happen if the Earth had
double the amount of this crucial element? The first thing you’d notice would
probably be those giant bugs. Insects breathe through
tiny tubes called trachea. Scientists have theorized that if more
oxygen were to enter these tubes, insects like spiders and cockroaches
would grow much larger. About 300 million years ago,
during prehistoric times, Earth’s atmosphere was 30%
oxygen. During that time, insects were
much, much larger. Dragonflies were the size of hawks,
while some spiders were the size of small birds. Doubling the Earth’s
oxygen levels would mean having even more oxygen in
our atmosphere than back then. Our insects would be even more enormous. Although these giant insects
might scare the pants off of you, you can feel better knowing that
you’d have much more energy to outrun them. With a higher oxygen level, you’d
notice you that have much more energy. The human endurance records
of today would quickly be shattered after everyone
gets more oxygen in them. You’d also be more alert. More oxygen in your body, improves
your circulation and increases your energy. Humanity would see much less
disease, and you’d call in sick a lot less. Or, would you? A type of infection-fighting immune
cells known as neutrophils would occur more often, keeping you healthier.
You’d get a lot fewer colds! You’d be like Superman! Well, not quite. The increased amount of
oxygen your body is getting could also lead to some serious
long-term health problems. With the increased levels of oxygen, humans would
have an increased chance of oxygen toxicity. This happens when humans
are exposed to higher oxygen levels than their
bodies are normally used to. Over time, this could lead to lung damage, poor
eyesight and cells not being able to reproduce. Having too much oxygen in
your body creates free radicals. These atoms look for other
electrons to pair up with. When this happens it can cause
damage to your body and your DNA. Oh yeah, and what about
those crazy fires we mentioned? Well, with more oxygen
in the atmosphere things would catch on fire more easily. Generally speaking, when you can’t
start a fire it’s due to the lack of oxygen. With there being even more O2 the atmosphere
think of how easy everything would catch fire. Think California forest fires are bad? Expect those to happen all around the world. Even wet vegetation would
have a chance at burning. And as for the planet as a whole?
Well for one, we’d have a lot more mass. Oxygen isn’t just in our atmosphere.
It also plays a large part in the Earth’s crust. And with more oxygen
the crust would be heavier, making the lithosphere
heavier than our atmosphere. This would cause things to oxidize,
including large bodies of water, turning into hydrogen peroxide. So, some good and some bad comes with this, but luckily you can take a sigh of relief knowing
that our atmosphere only has 20% oxygen. And so far it’s worked out pretty well for us. But imagine if we had no oxygen? That sounds like a story
for another, WHAT IF.