In the global climate change debate (see “Climate unchanged,” Dec. 31, 2009), little is said about the adverse effects of high levels of carbon dioxide on all who breathe oxygen. Because CO2 reacts with the oxygen in the atmosphere, as the amount of carbon dioxide in the air we breathe goes up, the oxygen level goes down. Both the atmospheric oxygen and the oxygen levels in the world’s oceans are decreasing and this is shown by simple measurements.
Atmospheric CO2 levels are easily measured and have been measured for decades. The measurements show that CO2 is increasing. If CO2 levels continue to rise, oxygen deficiency will occur, especially to those who are most sensitive, the young and the old.
According to a recent comprehensive study of fossil forms from the ocean bottom, we now have the highest levels of carbon dioxide in the last 2.1 million years. In spite of major climate shifts during that time, the carbon dioxide level remained amazingly constant until recently. That fact makes today’s carbon dioxide level of 385 ppm look even more unnatural and strongly indicates recent human activities are having a very serious effect. The debate over whether the climate is becoming warmer because of natural cycles or because of human caused effects is somewhat irrelevant with regard to the future of life as we know it. Increasing CO2 levels can and will have a disastrous effect.
Our own survival should be our ultimate reason for cutting carbon dioxide emissions. Our CO2 problems require immediate action and solutions. Let’s work with Sens. Baucus and Tester to pass strong clean energy legislation out of the Senate early in 2010. Let our congressional offices know you are ready for action to lower CO2 levels before it is too late.