Those of us living near sea level breath a mixture of gases all the time. This mixture mostly contains nitrogen.Â In this nitrogenÂ based atmosphere is blended in aÂ certain amount of oxygen. A healthy person can breath easily on the oxygen concentration of our earth’s atmosphere at reasonably low altitudes.
Â At higher altitudes, it becomes more difficult to get the oxygen we need because the atmosphere gets thinner with less of the gaseous mix. Oxygen is constantly being used by animals and people and must be replenished. Green plants are able to add oxygen back into the atmosphere.
However, this oxygen must be utilitized at a constant steady rate in order to keep our atmosphere safe.Â If the oxygen content falls too low, we could suffocate. If there becomes too much oxygen, the atmosphere becomes dangerously flammable. Too much oxygen and fires can start very easily and such fires will be very difficult to control or put out.
Nasa learned this truth very tragically when they let the air inside a manned space capsule become to rich in oxygen. A spark ignited the air so that the air itself caught fire in an explosive flash of heat. The men inside were killed by this firey blast. The air in our atmosphere is no different. If there should be too much oxygen in it, there could be a sudden and devestating flash fire which could set all flamable objects on fire as well with the result being that the oxygen could be consumed
The oxygen level of the atmosphere could drop severely low, with no land plant life able to replenish it. The oceanic plants could gradually replenish the oxygen as long as there remains enough CO2 for them to live on. It’s a good thing that there is plenty of nitrogen gas in the atmosphere to thin down the concentration of oxygen in the air. There’s enough to breath, but notÂ TOO much to risk runaway fires or explosions.
Â Wayne Hollyoak