Inhale, exhale is obviously our daily life as people living on the Blue Planet! But if this latest study in Nature Geoscience is to be believed, it may not last forever. After all, there shouldn’t be any problems in our eternity …
But in a billion years the earth and future inhabitants of the earth may no longer be able to breathe. And for good reason, oxygen would suffocate life forms on earth. According to this study, the atmosphere is becoming so rich in methane again that we are running out of oxygen! That would return the earth to a state similar to the Great Oxidation Event (GOE) 2.4 billion years ago!
This study is from Chris Reinhard of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Researchers claim that oxygen in the air will not be present indefinitely! This will inevitably create difficulties in recognizing signs of life in the universe.
Deoxygenation of the atmosphere with a sudden drop in atmospheric oxygen … This is the barely comforting scenario these scientists are considering. What the end of humans and most other life forms on earth would mean … Any living body that needs oxygen to live could therefore no longer survive!
Photo credit: Shutterstock / Leigh Prather
Overview of the study
To reach their conclusions, the researchers used detailed models of the Earth’s biosphere, taking into account changes in solar brightness and the corresponding drop in carbon dioxide levels as the gas collapses under the influence of increased levels of heat.
Concentration of oxygen, methane and CO2 over the years. Photo credit: Kazumi Ozaki and Chris Reinhard, Nature Geoscience, 2021
Less carbon dioxide means fewer photosynthetic organisms like plants, which would result in less oxygen. With the discovery of habitable planets outside of our solar system, researchers believe that we will soon have to look for biosignatures other than oxygen. This would allow us to better identify life.