Oxygen is one of the many components that make life on Earth possible. A new study claims that an extreme decrease in oxygen levels could one day kill most life on Earth. This is not expected to occur for another billion years.
The new study, which was published in Nature Geoscience in March 2021, says that the extreme drop in oxygen levels could take Earth back to the same state it was in before an event called the Great Oxidation Event (GOE), which is theorized to have happened around 2. 4 billion years ago.
If this theory proves correct, the oxygen levels on Earth would drop drastically, allowing more methane to fill the atmosphere. This would, of course, make life on Earth much less probable and lead to the planet’s excess of life dying off due to suffocation. This is not the first time we have heard of a bleak Earth’s future.
In fact, we know that eventually, the Sun will die, causing it to explode outward, devastating many of the planets around it. When that happens several billion years from now, it will destroy whatever atmosphere Earth has left, leaving it a husk of what it once was. The fact that all of Earth’s oxygen might one day drop extremely is just another hurdle we’ll have to face – if humanity is even around when that happens.
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Of course, it’s also very likely that by the time this happens, we’ll be living on other planets, as NASA and others are already looking for ways to build colonies on the Moon and send humans to Mars for long periods of time. Some life forms, like microbial ones, could survive even without oxygen.
Thankfully, the ramifications of this theory are still a few billion years off. While it won’t be something that we have to deal with in our lifetimes, the fact that it could happen is terrifying.
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