“Earth’s Oxygen is Rapidly Running Out…” We’re Doomed!

Guest “not in a billion years” by David Middleton

Earth’s Oxygen is Rapidly Running Out, Dropping Levels Will Eventually Suffocate Most Life on Planet

MARCH 03, 2021, Buzz Staff

Elon Musk may be talking about sending humans to Mars, and Bill Gates may be talking about reversing climate change – but the very air we breathe may run out soon.

/our oxygen-rich atmosphere may only last another billion years, finds a new study. Published in journal in Nature Geoscience, called “The future lifespan of Earth’s oxygenated atmosphere,” explains that even if it won’t happen in the near future, when the change comes, it’s going to happen fairly rapidly.



The article features this “representative image”…

Representative Image. (AFP)… Representative of what?

Is “/our” a typo? Or some arcane journalistic technique? Did Buzz Staff (if that is his real name) think that “soon” and “going to happen fairly rapidly” meant the same thing?

After starting off with, “Earth’s Oxygen is Rapidly Running Out” and “the very air we breathe may run out soon”… They go on to write, “our oxygen-rich atmosphere may only last another billion years.” As a geologist, I tend to think of “soon” as thousands or maybe even a few million years. One billion years is not “soon”… The Phanerozoic Eon is only about 540-560 million years old.


Its name derives from the Ancient Greek words φανερός (phanerós), meaning visible, and ζωή (zōḗ), meaning life; since it was once believed that life began in the Cambrian, the first period of this eon. The term “Phanerozoic” was coined in 1930 by the American geologist George Halcott Chadwick (1876–1953).[5][6]


I suppose the Proterozoic Ediacaran critters were alive; but they were weird and hadn’t been noticed in 1930.

“Our oxygen-rich atmosphere may only last another billion years.”

This caveat to the statement that “Earth’s oxygen is rapidly running out… the very air we breathe may run out soon” lacks context.

  • Is a billion years a long or shore period of time compared to how long our atmosphere has been oxygen-rich?
  • For that matter… How long has our atmosphere has been oxygen-rich?
  • When did our atmosphere become oxygen-rich?
  • How do you define oxygen-rich?
An overview of post-Archean atmospheric evolution in the context of biological evolution and constraints on mean global temperature in the Archean (see text) in the context of the glacial record.” (Catling & Zahnle, 2020)

The “Great Oxidation Event” only took O2 from about zero-point-zero to about 0.1 bar, before it fell back to 0.001 bar. The Cambrian Explosion brought it up to 0.035 bar. The Devonian oxygenation brought it up its current partial pressure of 0.21 bar…

 Billion Years Ago Atmospheric Oxygen (bar)
When did our atmosphere become oxygen-rich?

Earth’s Oxygen is Rapidly Running Out

This will certainly take care of that wildfire thingy. The “fire window” is defined as an atmospheric oxygen content range of 13-15% to 35%.  Below 13-15% fire will not ignite and above 35% fire cannot be extinguished (which would really suck!).

Oddly enough, Earth’s oxygen is running out… Just not “rapidly.”

Figure 3. Decline in atmospheric oxygen over past 800,000 years (Stolper et al., 2018).

The atmospheric oxygen level has been slowly declining over time.  O2/N2 ratios from Greenland and Antarctic ice cores indicate that atmospheric oxygen has declined by 0.7% over the past 800,000 years (Stolper et al., 2018). At this rate, fire will become extinct in only 8-9 million years. Which will be good because we’ll lack the strength to start fires, much less put them out…

Not Enough Oxygen: Side Effects

Serious side effects can occur if the oxygen levels drop outside the safe zone. When oxygen concentrations drop from 19.5 to 16 percent, and you engage in physical activity, your cells fail to receive the oxygen needed to function correctly. Mental functions become impaired and respiration intermittent at oxygen concentrations that drop from 10 to 14 percent; at these levels with any amount of physical activity, the body becomes exhausted. Humans won’t survive with levels at 6 percent or lower.


Only about 18 million years until we get down to 6% O2

Meme Generator… It’s a meme… Yoda did actually say this in any of the Star Wars movies… Or, did he?

In other news…

World Leaders Pledge To Cut Emissions By As Much As They Can Realistically Back Out Of
Tuesday 10:15AM

BONN, GERMANY—Agreeing that public perception of how they were handling the climate crisis had never been more important, world leaders signed a major new accord Tuesday in which they pledged to cut carbon emissions to the extent that they could realistically back out of a few years from now. 


The Onion


Catling, David & Kevin Zahnle. (2020). The Archean atmosphere. Science Advances. 6. eaax1420. 10.1126/sciadv.aax1420.

Glasspool, Ian & Andrew Scott. (2010). Phanerozoic atmospheric oxygen concentrations reconstructed from sedimentary charcoal. Nature Geoscience. 3. 10.1038/ngeo923.

Ozaki, K., Reinhard, C.T. The future lifespan of Earth’s oxygenated atmosphere. Nat. Geosci. (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-021-00693-5

Rimmer, S. M., Hawkins, S. J., Scott, A. C., & Cressler, W. L. (2015). The rise of fire: Fossil charcoal in late Devonian marine shales as an indicator of expanding terrestrial ecosystems, fire, and atmospheric change. American Journal of Science, 315(8), 713-733.

Stolper D, Bender M, Dreyfus G, Yan Y, Higgins J. A Pleistocene ice core record of atmospheric O2 concentrations. Science. 2016;353:1427–1430. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf5445.

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March 4, 2021 2:03 pm

If only there was some process by which living matter would convert the excess CO2 to O2. Oh well, I guess the only thing to say is “so long, and thanks for all the fish.”

Reply to  Wade
March 4, 2021 2:14 pm

Yes plants do it take carbon and release O2.

Bryan A
Reply to  Vuk
March 4, 2021 3:25 pm

Must have been authored by Ann Oxic

Reply to  Vuk
March 4, 2021 4:27 pm

Catch and release (in the fall)! Don’t have to clean it that way (just rake and leaf it by the curb). Uncle Elm(er) told me about a really big carp(on atom) s/he caught the other day. Sorry if anyone thinks this comment is a bit too fishy or woody or something…um I’m going to make like a rubber tree and burn out now.

Reply to  Vuk
March 4, 2021 4:28 pm

He’s, being sarcastic and cynical 😉

Reply to  JEHILL
March 4, 2021 11:48 pm

I thought there was something fishy about it.

Nicholas Harding
Reply to  Wade
March 4, 2021 2:56 pm

6 CO2+ 12 H2O + light–>C6H12O6 + 6 O2+ 6 H2O

I call it the Annual Green Deal and it is cost effective! Everyone plant a tree, vegie, flower, grass or hemp. We take CO2 out of the air and put O2 back in the air. Emergency averted!

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Nicholas Harding
March 5, 2021 7:53 am

The reduction of CO2 to sugars and the splitting of water to release oxygen are two distant reactions in photosynthesis. The oxygen in the air came from water split by the concentrated power of photon energy.

Bob Meyer
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 5, 2021 1:28 pm

But what if there’s a photon shortage? The number of photons is limited. Have we reached peak photon?

Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
March 9, 2021 9:56 pm

Any proof for this assertion?

Reply to  Wade
March 6, 2021 7:18 pm

The Planet is infested with mouth breathers, sucking up all the oxygen and spewing co2. We must eliminate all the mouth breathers, before they kill us all.

March 4, 2021 2:09 pm

We are certainly doomed to listen to this sort of Scientific Nonsense and Climate Propaganda, day in and day out. It alone will be enough to kill us all.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
March 4, 2021 5:43 pm

You think this is bad, check out the nu math:

Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 4, 2021 9:14 pm

What is the value of 60 ÷ 5(y-5) when y = 7.

Carlo, Monte
Reply to  fred250
March 5, 2021 7:25 am


Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
March 5, 2021 7:41 am

Funny . . . I get sqrt(42) . . . what went wrong?

Natalie Durdle
Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 4, 2021 10:50 pm

While you touched on the reason for concern I wanted to clarify at least one result from reintroducing ambiguity and whether or not the modern interpretation was correct to be interpreted that way. Math in a computer must evaluate to only one answer.

One answer on Monday and a different one on Tuesday if one computer is talking to a different computer can result in things like missing the window on a moon shot, crashed market servers and weird things like date mismatches or security certificates going wonky.

It is actually a two-fold problem. First, at the software level, we use mathematical solutions to define and solve for real world problems. Like landing a plane on autopilot. Trigonometry is required to keep the plane from crashing into the ground. The autopilot functions requires an unambiguous answer and every programmer must use the same conventions.

Also, on some level your basic functions are hardwired into our circuit boards. If the computer at any point has any of these order of operations assumptions etched into the functions stored on the motherboard, they would clash with the programming. Mostly, NAND NOR gates are plus minus and it is or it is not, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility someone could hardwire some black box circuit with built in order of operations assumptions.

So the reason we needed to clarify the order of operations historically was not just to make sure we were not being overcharged on our taxes. We need an order of operations set of rules that forces us to land the plane safely every single time. Hence, the rules must not only be unambiguous, they have to lead to an equation that our boolean computer circuits are actually physically capable of evaluating.

If the old method led to equations that were unsolvable or actually inaccurate, this is why it would have been changed. So we could land space shuttle on the moon. If that choice was made in error, or we never actually fully evaluated the issue before we made the modern interpretation practice, then we need to go back and evaluate which choice is more accurate or if we need to make even more adjustments.

It is absolutely essential that computer programmers not only use the same conventions, but that those conventions are actually reflecting real world reality when it comes to solving math based problems.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 5, 2021 12:19 am

So what you’re saying is Climate scientologists are using Google who uses the nu maths to do their sums.

No wonder the models run hot

very old white guy
Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 5, 2021 5:41 am

I would have said 24.

Reply to  very old white guy
March 5, 2021 9:43 am

Heavens, no! The answer is 42. The answer is always 42.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 5, 2021 10:09 am

First – It is not like we walk down the street and stumble over equations. People encounter problems and then state the problem as a math equation to help them solve said problem. When they fail to correctly state the order of calculation they get wrong answers and fail to solve their problem. societies biggest problem is that Schools don’t spend enough time teaching students how to author equations from real time situations

Second – Calculators don’t determine order of operation. Operators do that. Google and android are software programs not calculators. Computer simple follow instruction. The programmer who wrote the software determines the outcome (Just like computer modelers predicting the end of days due to climate change) The software will give a correct answer based upon how the inquiry is made in the search line (statement of the problem) and how the programmer instructs it to order the calculations.

The computer answer is correct but it might not solve the problem.

Lutz Jacoby
Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 6, 2021 3:31 am

The problem is in the signage: There is a division sign but no multiplication sign. Pf you add the multiplication sign 60 / 5 x (7 – 2) it looks different. If you drop the division sign it becomes a fraction. The ambiguity lies in this ‘mixed message’.

Doc Chuck
Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 7, 2021 2:41 pm

Guys (in the gender-vague sense naturally), you’re being too finicky about what is “correct”. It’s just an oppressive manifestation and thus a microaggression of white privilege on the quantitatively disadvantaged enjoying the refuge of their safe space to insist on a single right (see!, there’s the political extremism that underlies all this) answer. All answers must be regarded as equally correct outcomes (as opposed to merely providing equal opportunities to make an assessment); and as unique results are inherently unfair, all participating will deserve an accolade trophy for doing so. Indeed the very idea already makes me feel better about it, and in the end surely you realize that’s what counts today.

David LeBlanc
March 4, 2021 2:16 pm

Go to a garden center or plant nursery, find a plant you like, buy it and start breathing.

John Tillman
March 4, 2021 2:23 pm

As the sun grows more luminous, C3 plants will run out of CO2 in just 500 million years. C4 and CAM plants might survive for another 400 million years.


Rud Istvan
Reply to  John Tillman
March 4, 2021 3:23 pm

Lots of stupid stuff on that interweb thingy. Like this righteously ridiculed by DM.

The great land sequestration of CO2 as coal was during the Carboniferous, which began with the evolution of large woody plants (cellulose plus lignin) and roughly ‘ended’ with the evolution of white fungi capable of digesting lignin (except locally in places like acidic anoxic peat bogs).

The great ocean sequestration of CO2 as limestones from calcareous single celled marine organisms never stopped, and never peaked. Chugs along.

The drop in CO2 toward present preindustrial levels led to the evolution of C4 from C3 plant photosynthesis about 40 mya. Mostly dryland grasses and sedges because of the indirect effect on stomata and evapotranspiration. Evidence: the Sahel is greening more than the Amazon basin.

CO2 levels apparently stabilized at the preindustrial ~280 ppm millions of years ago. I believe this is generally because of the roughly present plate tectonics configuration. For example, Antarctic moved over the south pole about 36mya and started accumulating ice, lowering sea levels and providing more impermanent terrestial sequestration in soils and vegetation.

Given present plate/ continent configurations, it is estimated that CO2 would drop below plant sustaining levels (about 150 ppm) in 1-2 million years were it not for the great limestone recycling mechanism known as plate subduction zones creating andesic volcanoes spewing CO2 and calcific ‘ash’.

Now IF tectonics were to reform a Pangea, we might be in eventual trouble because we might lack the Pacific ring of fire limestone recycling mechanism.

But that was not the premise of this really silly ‘sciency’ article.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Rud Istvan
March 4, 2021 9:37 pm

That there white fungi is now trying to digest bats. Why can’t things just stay the way they were?

March 4, 2021 2:25 pm

Antarctic ice cores indicate that atmospheric oxygen has declined by 0.7% over the past 800,000 years (Stolper et al., 2018).

If that is not a flawed measurement but reality, I wonder where the O2 is going?

Gary Ashe
Reply to  RickWill
March 4, 2021 2:50 pm

Leaking to space.

Reply to  Gary Ashe
March 4, 2021 2:52 pm

Leftists’ barometric chambers?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Gary Ashe
March 4, 2021 9:39 pm

And forming more oxide-class minerals. Before the Great Oxygenation event, minerals like hematite (Fe2O3) were rare.

Krishna Gans
Reply to  RickWill
March 4, 2021 3:17 pm

We combine it with C to CO2 – what a question 😀

Steve Reddish
Reply to  Krishna Gans
March 4, 2021 6:00 pm

Oh no! Now humans will have to sequester carbon for real – after separating the O2 from it. How could we possibly do that?

Krishna Gans
Reply to  Steve Reddish
March 5, 2021 5:50 am

Photosynthesis ? 😀

Reply to  Krishna Gans
March 5, 2021 8:47 am

That won’t work. We need to build forests of mechanical trees to do it.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  RickWill
March 4, 2021 5:43 pm

“either the effects of increased Pleistocene erosion rates or decreased ocean temperature to explain feedbacks in the global cycles of carbon, sulfur, and O2—and the effects of both could have contributed to the observed decline in PO2.”

So either oxidization of terra or decrease in temperature which would cause more to dissolve into the oceans, or both. I am going with dissolved into the oceans. Nothing a little global warming wouldn’t fix, if only we could magically control global climate and prevent the next glacial period.

Reply to  RickWill
March 4, 2021 6:44 pm

No more vegans and jogging.

Reply to  RickWill
March 6, 2021 11:19 am

How about rust i.e. iron oxide?

March 4, 2021 2:29 pm

Middleton, this is serious, STOP making jokes,

this is a choking matter !

Last edited 1 year ago by 1saveenergy
Krishna Gans
Reply to  saveenergy
March 4, 2021 3:18 pm

I thought to have respiration problem being ill, but as I read that, ok 😀

Reply to  saveenergy
March 5, 2021 5:48 am

Does that mean every molecule has to be marked as a choke hazzard?

Doc Chuck
Reply to  saveenergy
March 7, 2021 6:59 pm

And if, after having so surely spared our descendants those imminent soaring global high temperatures (as well as returning snow to our winters) just catching their breath weren’t threatening enough with plunging oxygen levels, burning (i.e. oxidizing) logs in a romantic fireplace will be an unattainable wistful notion. At least they’ll have heating entirely powered by those unfailing wind and photovoltaic receptors of solar energy that we’re busy pioneering for them. Let’s hope that such electric means can somehow actually be built and maintained without combustion resources.

Nick Schroeder
March 4, 2021 2:34 pm

At 6,500′, elevation of my home, oxygen is 16.3%.
Looking west Pikes Peak at 14,000′ where there is daily major construction activity remodeling the peak visitor center, oxygen is only 12.3%.
There is a staffed weather station up there, too.
Guess we did not get the memo about all those harmful effects.
Either that or the “experts” are simply full of it as is becoming more obvious.

Reply to  Nick Schroeder
March 4, 2021 6:42 pm

Maybe that’s a normalized or effective concentration, but the real concentration is still 21%.

Reply to  Nick Schroeder
March 4, 2021 7:12 pm

I live at 8600 ft, am 64 y old, and often hike in excess of 3 mph with elevation change of up to 1000 ft. for 3 to 6 miles at a time. I am not in great shape and don’t walk every day. I don’t even get to breathing hard, and my heart rate does not go above 120 or so.

I guess I must be imagining all that.

Or do these a$$ hats not know about acclimation? Although I am sure they would prefer acclimatization since it is made from their favorite word.

Reply to  Drake
March 4, 2021 8:28 pm

Give yourself credit – you’re in good shape!

John F Hultquist
Reply to  Drake
March 4, 2021 9:12 pm

At age 74, I’ve worked on hiking trails at Mt. Rainier N. P., out of Sunrise.
The parking lot is at 6,400 feet. I can work with all the trail tools at that altitude, and have gone to about 7,000 feet doing that sort of work.
However, I have a rare blood disorder (Rouleaux formations) that makes for a low red blood count.
So while I can work at those elevations (some can’t), I do have trouble hiking with a continuous elevation gain even when the starting elevation is much lower, say 2,000 feet.

Visiting with hikers of varying abilities is a good way of recognizing our differences.

Devils Tower
March 4, 2021 2:40 pm

Maybe it is time to discuss issues in attached article….


If you can not explain the evolution of the atmosphere, how can you even start to discuss climate…

Larry in Texas
March 4, 2021 2:45 pm

Well, David, this is just The Long Goodbye, that’s all. Lol! I thought that was the name of a movie from way back when, I don’t remember for sure.

Given the quality of the thinking coming out of some people these days (especially “Buzz Staff,” the BHO administration – h/t to Joel O’Bryan for coming up with that term – and many so-called “climate scientists”), it appears the oxygen decline has already begun.

Gary Ashe
March 4, 2021 2:45 pm

Well i don’t know the timescales David but i do know that when the bubbles of air were trapped in Amber the air contained 20% more oxygen than today.

Also dinosaurs had no diaphragms they didn’t need them the air was that rich, not hard to know why in the age of mega fauna.
When the asteroid that finished the dinosaurs hit and put the final nail in their coffins they were doomed any way as they were slowly dying out by getting a yard or 2 too short in hunting their prey which did develop diaphragms as the oxygen content in the air decreased over millenia.

Now all WE need to do is get rid of all the oxygen thieving leftist progressives.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gary Ashe
Clyde Spencer
Reply to  David Middleton
March 4, 2021 9:49 pm

So, it was getting close to the level at which a lightning strike would start a wildfire that would burn as long as it could reach fuel. Actually, I imagine that 35% isn’t a magic threshold. Fires would just burn more ferociously as the O2 content increased to, and beyond, 35%.

Tsk Tsk
Reply to  Gary Ashe
March 4, 2021 4:07 pm

Bird respiration is more efficient than us lowly mammals. We make up for it somewhat with a diaphragm. Were dinosaurs more like birds or us?

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
March 4, 2021 5:51 pm

Can’t imagine their hearts beating that fast.

Gary Ashe
Reply to  Tsk Tsk
March 4, 2021 7:47 pm

More like crocodiles, not many of the experts claim dinosaurs had diaphragms if any now.
Crocodiles are dinosaurs aren’t they.

Last edited 1 year ago by Gary Ashe
March 4, 2021 2:50 pm

Let me guess, a billion years?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  bluecat57
March 4, 2021 8:16 pm

If a super hightech space alien race had visited Earth a billion years, could it have imagined the changes that would have come to this planet in the next billion trips around its star? All they would have found is oceans filled with algae sludge and bacterial biofilms coating everything, turning CO2 to carbohydrates and water to oxygen. Volcanoes exploding and turning the atmosphere to toxic sulfur gasses.

  • Would they have been able to foresee a “Cambrian biological explosion” of diversity?
  • Would they have foreseen an errant nickel-iron asteroid smacking the Earth and wiping out most large land animals?
  • Would they have understood how a primate could evolve in a few hundred thousand years to then conquer space travel in a few thousand?

I doubt even the most advanced race can predict the non-linearity of a future that far out.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joel O’Bryan
Natalie Durdle
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 4, 2021 10:54 pm

Unless they were terraformers. Or had real fast computers.Or a long time for those computers to crunch the equations. And possibly smacked the planet with that asteroid themselves to get the whole dinosaur death thing going.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 5, 2021 5:01 am

Thanks. I was just being a smartass about “rapidly”. Heck, I wouldn’t worry if it was only 100 years. Humans will either fond a solution faster or we will die. Same as for every other Fear Porn disaster.

Charles Higley
March 4, 2021 3:07 pm

How long do these idiots think humans have been around? Maybe a few million years and even less for modern humans. Really? A billion years? Thanks for the good news.

Dumb as a box of rocks, they are.

Natalie Durdle
Reply to  Charles Higley
March 4, 2021 10:56 pm

Not looking at the genetic possibilities you is. Or the fact our moon rotation is a bit weird. And is the orbit of a certain comet named Haley. As in, it exists it does without falling into the sun.

Robert of Texas
March 4, 2021 3:17 pm

Run out of oxygen in a billion years? Heck, then we will need to wear 3 masks over our faces to be safe. To keep all of the…uh…nitrogen out?

So, how is it that photosynthesis is supposed to disappear? Let me guess…global ice sheets brought on by all of the global warming!

I guess they do not realize that if you have sunlight, lots of CO2 and some water you can grow plants?

Reply to  Robert of Texas
March 4, 2021 4:13 pm

soon children won’t know what plants are.

Reply to  chickenhawk
March 4, 2021 6:01 pm

What about snow peas?

Reply to  Pauleta
March 5, 2021 5:49 am

Not sure about those but snow flakes we seem to be breeding successfully.

Mumbles McGuirck
Reply to  Robert of Texas
March 5, 2021 5:31 am

Aha! That clever Dr. Fauxi is training us to live with less oxygen. By the time a billion years rolls by, we’ll be wearing ten thousand masks and be able to live without O2.
“Hello, my name is Buzz Staff and my preferred pronouns are /our and @xhim.”

Tom in Toronto
March 4, 2021 3:23 pm

A billion years ago the first multi-cellular organisms were just developing.
So whatever is here to see the ‘end of oxygen’ will probably be as different from us, as we are from rudimentary fungi or the simplest jellyfish.

Frank from NoVA
March 4, 2021 3:31 pm


“The “Great Oxidation Event” only took O2 from about zero-point-zero to about 0.1 bar, before it fell back to 0.001 bar. The Cambrian Explosion brought it up to 0.035 bar. The Devonian oxygenation brought it up its current partial pressure of 0.21 bar…”

Didn’t the GOE have a lot of heavy lifting to do in terms of oxidizing iron and other metals?

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  David Middleton
March 4, 2021 5:59 pm

Good point. Speaking of the Precambrian, I wonder when our virtue-signaling friends del norte will ban fracking in the Canadian Shield?

Paula Cohen
March 4, 2021 3:31 pm

You know, Yoda (“Doomed we are…”) doesn’t look very worried, and neither am I. If “rapidly” is a billion years from now, I think I’m not gonna sweat it, know what I mean? Hell, if we can figure out how to create and produce a vaccine to end a pandemic in one year, we can (ya think?) figure out how to re-oxygenate our atmosphere in a billion years! Or even be colonizing solar systems thousands of light-years away from this one!

My dad said it best. Many years ago — oh, about 65 or so — when I was 8, I was reading a “Little Golden Book” about our solar system and astronomy. The last page of the book sent me running to my dad in tears, because it showed a picture of a meteor smashing into the earth and blowing it apart. To make matters worse, the text also explained that the sun could turn supernova and incinerate the entire solar system, instead. Either way, it was curtains for our beautiful world!! I was devastated.

I sobbed to my dad that we were all doomed. He said, “When did you say this was going to happen?” I wept, “a billion years from now!” Dad wiped his forehead, took a deep breath, and said, “Oh, wow!! I thought you said only a million!!”

Problem solved…

Last edited 1 year ago by Paula Cohen
Reply to  Paula Cohen
March 4, 2021 3:53 pm

Thats a good story! And underlines a point the author hasn’t considered – what is happening to our star, in a billion years? Oxygen may be the least of our worries.

Reply to  David Middleton
March 4, 2021 5:49 pm

You cant know that for sure…

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  David Middleton
March 4, 2021 8:44 pm

If you could travel around the universe at 0.9999999999999999 the speed of light (16 9’s), your next 40 years would see almost a billion years pass in the stationary universe.
The acceleration and then deceleration from that speed would be bitch tho’.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joel O’Bryan
Carlo, Monte
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 5, 2021 7:30 am

As would be the H flux (protons).

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  David Middleton
March 4, 2021 8:25 pm

Travel to the distant future for a fast traveling space-man/space-woman/space-it is certainly possible per Einstein’s GR. Travel to the past not so much. We are all time travelers to future right now in fact.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 4, 2021 9:54 pm

The arrow seems to only point in one direction.

Reply to  Paula Cohen
March 5, 2021 1:36 am

Woody Allen had a nice skit in one of his movies where he had a fit when he misheard a teacher say ‘the sun will explode in 4 million years!’ but she had said 4 billion and then never mind. I know Allen has been cancelled and I am a bad person for remembering this, not to mention confounding Emily Litella (never mind) with Woody, but that was my first impression.

However, I am interested in 02 concentration and its effects on life. Current estimates of 02 at sea level in the Cambrian range from 10-15%. So, base camp on Everest is given at a similar level. Is this a relative measure of O2 availability or does the atmosphere stratify by molecular weight and O2 actually decreases with altitude?

David Sulik
March 4, 2021 4:05 pm

Because; Calcium carbonate.

Douglas Pollock
March 4, 2021 4:09 pm

Should we now start paying taxes to prevent O2 going away in a billion years more?
If this article ever falls in the hands of the IPCC or Biden, certainly yes.

Michael S. Kelly
March 4, 2021 4:18 pm

“Our oxygen-rich atmosphere may only last another billion years.”

I misread that at first, and thought read: “Our oxygen-rich atmosphere may only last another <i>million</i> years.”
Whew! Had me scared for a minute!

March 4, 2021 4:29 pm

Sorry to do this but…

Thank you, Justice Barrett!

Barrett authors first U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a loss for environmentalists


Now to celebrate !

Reply to  john
March 4, 2021 9:34 pm

How is allowing government secrecy on actions that can effect the entire society a good thing?

Reportedly Gina McCarthy, the then EPA chief, refused a Senate subpoena for documents purporting to support Obama’s Clean Power Plan, proclaiming that she intended to protect “our data” from “potentially hostile analysis” (think of the children’s tender feelings!). This is the same mentality as the Left’s wailing and gnashing of teeth over Trump’s proposed requirement that evidence supposedly supporting proposed EPA regulations must be made available for review and comment (something that has been law, but ignored by the agency, more or less since the inception of the EPA, as far as I understand): Shut up and do what we say, we know best what is good for you. Don’t talk back to your betters.

It would be completely different, and a much better thing, for the courts to summarily dismiss any activist’s suits that relied on unevidenced opinions expressed in documents but to allow such documents to be kept secret is just keeping the peasants’ faces down in the dust.

Neil Jordan
March 4, 2021 5:01 pm

Before I read down to a billion years, my first comment to the author of the Nature article was going to be: What do you expect? For every atom of carbon you sequester, you sequester two atoms of oxygen.

March 4, 2021 5:22 pm

How well does the drop in O2 match up with the drop in CO2 over the last 60 million years?

March 4, 2021 5:25 pm

Darn, I was worried about the Sun becoming a red giant and now this?????

Mike McMillan
March 4, 2021 5:25 pm

A billion years? That’s a relief.

I thought you said million.

Abolition Man
March 4, 2021 5:28 pm

The obvious solution is to increase cement production, giving the plants more CO2 so that they in turn offset the rapid loss of oxygen! Instead of building Unreliable Energy projects that confound electric grid stability without producing adequate CO2, how about if we use the extra cement to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
Maybe we could use some of it to make cement overshoes for all the politicians who killed and bankrupted their constituents for political gain! When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Abolition Man
March 4, 2021 10:00 pm

In a million years we should have been able to solve the problem of controlled thermonuclear fusion and have sufficient energy to start calcining the vast quantities of limestone to either produce CO2 for plants, or electrolize water to produce oxygen. Another non-problem.

Xinnie the Pooh
March 4, 2021 5:30 pm

It’s a shame they don’t teach photosynthesis in schools any more

Robert W Turner
March 4, 2021 5:32 pm

This will certainly take care of that wildfire thingy.”
LOL, always good for a laugh

Robert W Turner
March 4, 2021 5:34 pm

It may only be circumstantial, but I think this is good proof that the academic world is already suffering from a lack of oxygen.

Doomed we are if people like this are teaching mathematics, and at a university level at that!

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 4, 2021 8:21 pm

Al Geb-ra is a foreign language to the Left.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 4, 2021 9:36 pm

Why do you believe the expression, as shown, is without ambiguity?

Reply to  AndyHce
March 5, 2021 1:42 am

The way it is written, gives effective bracketing of 5(7-5)

It means 5 lots of (7-5)

No ambiguity at all.

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Reply to  fred250
March 5, 2021 3:55 am

So, all the calculators that say otherwise are just wrong?
Forget the explicit rules about the order of operations?

Reply to  fred250
March 5, 2021 1:10 pm

5(7-5) is nothing more than a short hand for 5 * (7-5). Since division and multiplication are the same level, they are performed left to right. No ambiguity at all.

Reply to  MarkW
March 5, 2021 5:19 pm

Any “ambiguity” is coming from assumptions rather than reading exactly what is written. For math, you should read exactly what it there, don’t make assumptions.

This is written as 60 / 5 (7 – 5), which if written out without the “shorthand” of leaving off the symbol, becomes (as you said) 60 / 5 * (7 – 5)

So basic order of operations: parenthesis first:

60 / 5 * (7 – 5)
60 / 5 * 2

Then, multiplication and division, same precedence. Items of the same precedence proceed left to right:

60 / 5 * 2
12 * 2

No ambiguity if you don’t make assumptions. There is no explicit grouping of 5(7-2), so I wouldn’t assume any.

(if anyone disagrees with what I’m saying, please tell me where I am wrong)

Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 5, 2021 2:10 am

I suppose if basic left-right logic is not mandatory, then this would be ambiguous. Still, it seems to me that the formula is 60 divided by the product of 5 times 7-5 (maybe there should be a couple more parentheses, but really …). I am not mathematical, I admit, and long division by hand is increasingly mysterious, but I’m not supporting 24. You cannot divide 60 by any whole number and get 24.

Reply to  DaveW
March 5, 2021 3:59 am

60 divided by 5 equals 12.
12 times (7-5) equals 12 times 2 equals 24.

Grady Patterson
March 4, 2021 6:14 pm

I’m not positive, but my memory seems to indicate that it took about a billion years for pre-oxygenic cells to evolve into oxyphylic life and well under half that to evolve to take advantage of increasing atmospheric oxygen.

Does this mean that those who fear the depletion of oxygen repudiate evolution? 😛

March 4, 2021 6:42 pm

How dare they.

Len Werner
March 4, 2021 6:47 pm

If you want to know whether you should be afraid of climate change or not–ask a 500-million-year-surviving bivalve, not some upstart biped that hasn’t made it to a quarter of a million yet, and that sticks its head in the sand ostrich-like at the slightest thought that tomorrow may not be exactly the same as today, and you might have to adapt to some change.


(Yes, I know that Lingula also ‘sticks its head in the sand’, but not with its butt way up in the air for nature to kick at.)

And come to think of it, we shouldn’t laugh at ostriches either; they seem to have survived about 100 times the length of climate-change-time that hand-wringing humans have managed so far.

What a snivelling, whining Goldilocks species humans have become–except that NOTHING is just right anymore, despite all the invented technology that a Cambrian brachiopod could only dream about. Think of it–for over 500 million years that brach has been born, lived and ate, reproduced and died, over and over, but is still here today. In just 200,000 years humans have got so they can’t even figure out what gender they are.

In a survival bet, put your money on the Lingula; I don’t think humans are here for long. Too stupid.

Reply to  Len Werner
March 4, 2021 9:38 pm

Maybe just too social. My tribe, right or wrong.

Joel O'Bryan
March 4, 2021 7:06 pm

Wallace Broecker’s 1970 Science Mag essay/analysis on this subject, now 50 years old, is still the unassailable bright light that the climate scammers no doubt want to CANCEL.

Man’s Oxygen Reserves – Claims that this important resource is in danger of serious depletion are at all valid. – Wallace S. Broecker. Professor of Earth Science. Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory, Columbia University, NY.
Science  26 Jun 1970:
Vol. 168, Issue 3939, pp. 1537-1538
DOI: 10.1126/science.168.3939.1537

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 4, 2021 7:16 pm

The other point to make to put a lie to this the reason the O2/N2 ratios have been declining over 800,000 years is exactly because the plant food, CO2, has also been in decline over that time frame. Now that the CO2 levels are recovering (thank you Exxon-Mobil), the O2 levels are also recovering as primary productivity increasees, as measured by satellites that the Earth is greening,

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 4, 2021 7:24 pm

David, If you want the full pdf of that Broecker Scimag article I can send it to you via email. I think you can see my email address as a moderator/author/editor at WUWT.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
March 5, 2021 2:26 am

Quick correction for Broecker article title: “are not at all valid” instead of “are at all valid”.

John of Fabius
March 4, 2021 7:45 pm

A billion years from now, March 4th will fall on a Sunday. Problem solved and no further action required.

March 4, 2021 7:57 pm

Panic much?

/our oxygen-rich atmosphere may only last another billion years, finds a new study. Published in journal in Nature Geoscience, called “The future lifespan of Earth’s oxygenated atmosphere,” explains that even if it won’t happen in the near future, when the change comes, it’s going to happen fairly rapidly.”

When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.”

― Herman Wouk

Or the theme song for “Super Chicken” also works.

Wait’ll they find out our sun will become a red giant and engulf the Earth after the oxygen runs out.

After that, the galaxy known as Andromeda will collide with the Earth’s Milky Way galaxy.

Or maybe they’ll see the benefit of burning all of those complex carbon, hydrogen, oxygen molecules to reduce limestone into lime and letting plants turn the CO₂ into C and O₂?

Nah, too logical for the left.

Last edited 1 year ago by ATheoK
March 4, 2021 8:14 pm

Darn!!! I had plans for the weekend a billion and one years from now.

Alexy Scherbakoff
March 4, 2021 8:47 pm

I’m curious about the absolute air pressure over the ages. Any proxies that can tell us?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
March 4, 2021 9:23 pm

IFAIK, no proxies can tell us that. Unfortunately.
Clearly Mars lost most of its atmospnhere to solar wind ablation and its low gravity. But a lot of Mars oxygen is now in the form of iron oxides (red color) and perchlorate, which both are very abundant on Mars.
But how much atmosphere (gas pressure) Earth lost, but also gained by oyxgen from water, is very uncertain. This is because estimates of how much water Earth started with and how much is now subducted into the mantle and hydrated into minerals have huge error bars. Also the amount of water-derived oxygen now incorporated into iron oxides and deeply buried over the last 2 billion years has wide error bars (large uncertainty). Uncertainties are so large in any estimates, they could be anywhere.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joel O’Bryan
March 4, 2021 8:53 pm

Now I’m really worried

Mickey Reno
March 4, 2021 9:16 pm

Just when some dumb-ass says something that I think cannot be topped for dumb-assery, a double dumb-ass comes along and says something even dumber. When the sun turns into a red giant in “about” a billion years, the entire atmosphere will be blown into intergalactic space. The fact that the oxygen will be running out about then, won’t matter one whit.

Natalie Durdle
March 4, 2021 10:16 pm

Completely aside from any issues regarding why the O2 levels may be declining in both ocean and atmosphere – probably not the same processes but interlinked, and what those levels in the ocean might mean for our food supply both in terms of the process and the result, there is that 18 million year window issue.

While the issue itself should be alarming in terms of watching the effect we have on our own planet -because yes, too high is as bad as too low and breaking apart the water to access the elemental oxygen is sort of counterproductive, 18 million years on the too low side simply means we as individuals probably will not die as a result of atmospheric O2 deprivation.Maybe. Sort of depends on if that declining process is accelerating and might have some sort of tipping point of its own.

That said, this planet has a projected life span of at least another 500 million years before solar aging threatens to alter the temperature and light levels. Not only might our descendants appreciate being able to breathe, but so might whatever shares the planet with them. Dolphins, whales, hybridized sentient cat people descended from snow leopards.

Although, given we cannot save ourselves from our own environmental irresponsibility, I assume the people being sarcastic about the concern are oblivious to the fact those presupposed sentient beings who do not exist yet might actually be more important to some people than their sarcastic butts. Probably cuter too.

March 4, 2021 11:25 pm

And many ordinary people will believe that’s a terrible new ‘problem’, caused by humans.

I had an Archaeology Professor try to tell me once that we were going to run out of O2 if the Amazon was deforested. If a Humanities faux ‘science-guy’ thinks that, you can imagine what the regular person will swallow, with very little prodding.

Last edited 1 year ago by WXcycles
March 5, 2021 2:07 am

A billion years…..
All right,I’ll run the old Goon Show joke again-
“And suddenly (dramatic music)……nothing happened.
But it happened……….very suddenly!”
-The sadly missed Spike Milligan.

William Haas
March 5, 2021 2:17 am

I would think that running out of enough CO2 would be the more dangerous proposition. As far as O2 is concerned we are in luck. Next to the city where I live is a virtually limitless deposit of hydrogen hydroxide from which O2 can be extracted by electrolysis. The hydrogen hydroxide is almost in pure form and is in a liquid state that is easy to transport and to deal with. The real problem is what to do with the leftover H2. I would think in less than 500,000 years mankind will be able to develop fusion power plant technology that will run on ordinary hydrogen creating enough electrical energy for the electrolysis and converting the left over hydrogen to helium which will not react to the O2 in the air. The city where I live in is also blessed with mineral ores that are oxygen rich and could provide another source for O2. The problem is essentially solved.

Ed Zuiderwijk
March 5, 2021 2:18 am

Just reading the graph: 2.8 billion years ago carbon dioxide at 20 times current level, i.e. 8000 to 10000 ppm. Since all our fossil fuels derive from that CO2 we have an upper limit to the quantity of carbon locked up in them. We also have an upper limit to the amount of oxygen that could have come from CO2 by photosynthesis. It falls at least a factor 10 short (oxygen currently at 0.2; CO2 at its peak at 0.02).

Question. How do we know CO2 was so low before 2.4 billion years? Actual measurement or an hypothesis (like: before then all CO2 was requested in carbonates)? And how do we know the Nitrogen content when Ammonia appears missing from the picture.

Last edited 1 year ago by Ed Zuiderwijk
Loren C. Wilson
March 5, 2021 4:24 am

I am confident that we can invent a technology to extract oxygen from the plentiful aluminum, iron, and copper ores, or from the massive deposits of carbonates. Perhaps we should explore a redox reaction to make the elemental metal and carbon dioxide, and then we can convert the carbon dioxide back into oxygen, maybe by using sunlight. We do have some time to develop such a system.

very old white guy
March 5, 2021 5:33 am

I feel like I will be missing out on something.

Bruce Cobb
March 5, 2021 5:36 am

The image of the masked bicyclist is representative of both weapons-grade Stupid and the resultant oxygen-deprivation. Masks have become the modern-day equivalent of a talisman.

Gordon A. Dressler
March 5, 2021 7:42 am

From the dim bulbs at the journal Nature Geoscience, according to the above article: “our oxygen-rich atmosphere may only last another billion years”.

Tell you what, get back to me in a million years (0.1% of that timespan) and let me know if that prediction is still on track, OK?

March 5, 2021 7:55 am

This sort of headline is intended to frighten the uninformed and misinformed, who won’t really pay any attention to the details or the timeline, and will just start screaming about how we need to “do something” before “everybody dies”.

Mark Pawelek
March 5, 2021 8:07 am

Years back I was being warned there would be too much oxygen in a few hundred million years. After oxygen rises to 35%, of more, spontaneous fires will erupt and we’ll all be incinerated.

Gordon A. Dressler
Reply to  Mark Pawelek
March 5, 2021 8:22 am

Not to worry, the supposed increases in wildfires in Europe, Australia, the Brazilian rain forests, and the western states in America (just to mention of few grabbing recent headlines) are sure to regulate any rises in atmospheric oxygen concentration.

Andy Pattullo
March 5, 2021 8:32 am

A billion years. Good thing we have electoral term limits.

March 5, 2021 9:39 am

Perhaps those fine fellows at News18 should do their part & stop consuming it.

March 5, 2021 10:52 am

In other words, no plants, no oxygen, no life. But luckily we have enough resources on earth. But what is the future? that is the question that is answerable.

Jacobi Herbert
March 5, 2021 12:10 pm
  • Is a billion years a long or shore period of time compared to how long our atmosphere has been oxygen-rich?

Shore? People in glass houses, and etc.

Bob Meyer
March 5, 2021 1:26 pm

Just because there’s been an increase in human stupidity, it doesn’t mean that the cause is oxygen deprivation.

Reply to  Bob Meyer
March 5, 2021 2:16 pm

The Earth loses ~3 kg hydrogen per second to space. The hydrogen is from dissociated water. So the atmosphere gains ~25 kg oxygen per second. Then over 1 billion years the oxygen content of the atmosphere can for that reason almost be twice the current concentration.
But at that time the Sun will shine 10% stronger enhancing the loss of hydrogen dramatically and all water will be lost.

March 5, 2021 2:21 pm

The Earth loses ~3 kg hydrogen per second to space. The hydrogen is from dissociated water. So the atmosphere gains ~25 kg oxygen per second. Then over 1 billion years the oxygen content of the atmosphere can for that reason almost be twice the current concentration.
But at that time the Sun will shine 10% stronger enhancing the loss of hydrogen dramatically and all water will be lost.

Geoff from Tanjil
March 5, 2021 2:48 pm

We are already losing oxygen! 19%
I attended a “lecture” by David Suzuki in Frankston, Victoria, Australia about 20 years ago.

My first trade was in Instrumentation and control so I was familiar with the nature of gasses in industry and the atmosphere.
I found David’s talk engaging but containing very little science, until he stated more than once that the earth had an oxygen level of 19%.
That combined with the waffle about ocean levels, polar bears and CO2 confirmed my view that CO2 is not killing the earth.
I don’t know what they do in Canada but in Australia we calibrate our oxygen meters at 21% for atmospheric oxygen.

Tom Abbott
March 5, 2021 6:35 pm

From the article: our oxygen-rich atmosphere may only last another billion years”

That’s funny! Call me in a billion years.

March 6, 2021 9:08 am

This article proves that any moron or group of idiots can write Climate Porn !

March 6, 2021 11:24 am

The WUWT brain trust should have a weekly worst science, most ignorant post award.
I think we have a winner!

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