Study: ‘Global warming ‘could rob our planet of oxygen’ – ‘Would obviously kill most of life on Earth’
Will a UN Climate Agreement Save Our Oxygen!?
Study timed to 'coincide with UN climate talks'
Average global warming of 6 C (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) would be a threshold at which the phytoplankton's vital oxygen-generating abilities, determined by water temperature, would be impaired, they say. "It would mean oxygen depletion not only in the water but also in the air," said the team. "Should it happen, it would obviously kill most of life on Earth."
"The message from this study is that there may be another disaster approaching us as a consequence of global warming, and it may be much worse than all other consequences identified previously," co-author Sergei Petrovskii told AFP. "There may be very little warning signs before the disaster actually happens... but once the critical threshold is passed (as estimated at 6 C), then the catastrophe will develop fast," he explained by email.
Global warming has triggered an array of apocalyptic scenarios for future generations, from worsening drought, storms and floods to melted icesheets and rising seas.
Now a new study, published on Tuesday and coinciding with the UN climate talks in Paris, adds to the grim tableau: the risk that warming at the far end of the scale could rob our planet of oxygen.
“We have identified another possible consequence of … global warming that can potentially be more dangerous than all others,” say a pair of scientists from Britain’s University of Leicester.
Their study, based in the peer-reviewed journal the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, is based on a computer model of phytoplankton, the microscopic sea plants which produce about two-thirds of the oxygen in the atmosphere.