Origin Of Oxygen In The Atmosphere:
Have you ever wondered why earth is the only known planet that contains oxygen? Scientists theorized that earth at the beginning of time was actually without oxygen. It took nearly billions of years for the right conditions to arrive which lead to the accumulation of air which supports the life as we know in our planet. There’s actually a thousand theories on a various time scales and periods which tell us the origin of oxygen. So, we will just cut to the chase. How did our planet really end up with the approximately 21 percent of this stuff?
The answer is from a tiny set of organisms known as the blue-green algae or some might call it the cyanobacteria. These microbes conduct a process called photosynthesis which produce carbohydrates and yes, oxygen using just sunlight, water and carbon di-oxide. For years people have always wanted to do this natural brilliance of an evolution in an artificial way to produce food from just these three things. But no, still it’s not possible. In fact, all the plants on earth incorporate symbiotic bacteria called as chloroplasts to do their photosynthesis for them. These oxygen molecules produced by the plants are released into the atmosphere as we live and breath.
The oxygen , when looked from our eyes, the human eyes is a good thing. But scientists have found that millions of anaerobic organisms have become extinct because of the oxygen molecules. In a way the cyanobacteria is responsible for one of the most significant extinction events in Earth’s history.
What Is Happening To The Oxygen:
First of all we have to understand the fact that nothing everything present inside earth’s atmosphere leave it, when you look at it in the atomic scale. Nothing leaves the atmosphere unless it is a man made object. There is only the same content. The molecules only combine to form various components or various molecules of various qualities and various quantities. The good and the bad both are made from the same components. It is what has changed the Earth the way we see it now. Now back to the oxygen.
The atmosphere is a layer of air containing the mixture of gases. Air is the main source of oxygen, nitrogen and noble gases.
The oxygen as we know is mainly used for two purposes:
Oxygen is essential for all plant and animal life on earth. The process by which living organisms produce energy from their food is called respiration. Oxygen is essential for this process:
sugar + oxygen —> carbon dioxide + water + energy
- When we breathe in, we take air into our lungs.
- oxygen from the air dissolves in the blood in our lungs
- the dissolved oxygen is then taken to the cells in all parts of our body
- oxygen reacts with sugars in the cells to produce energy.
2. Combustion or Burning
For a combustion to take place we require three things Fuel, Heat and Oxygen. When most substances react with oxygen in an exothermic way, it is called combustion. If flames are produced during combustion, it is called burning.
Oxygen is for various applications
- As rocket fuel
- In steel making, to burn off impurities
- In oxy-acetyline cutting and welding
- In oxygen tanks for deep sea divers and mountain climbers to provide oxygen
- For respiration for most animals
- Used as oxygen tents in hospital to aid patients with respiratory problems.
Most substances when react with oxygen molecules to produce metal oxides or non-metal oxides. It is from these types of reactions, the components of the atmosphere gets changed which we call it an air pollution, since it is undesirable. The only desirable oxygen component is O2.
Undesirable oxide components:
- carbon monoxide, CO
- sulphur dioxide, SO2
- oxides of nitrogen, NO
- Unburnt hydrocarbons
- Dust and smoke from combustion
- Lead oxides
Ways To Increase The Atmospheric Oxygen:
We cannot just bring a block full of frozen oxygen and keep it near the poles to increase oxygen content in the atmosphere. Suppose if we do that and increase the atmospheric oxygen double fold. Will it help us. No!! It will only make it worse. If a lightning hit a tree in earth with double the amount of oxygen content, the small sparks of fire gets blown out proportionately and results in an aftermath, just like you cannot ignite a cigarette near an oxygen tank. The only way to increase the oxygen level to the desired 21 percent is to use what we already have. Our planet has always known a way to balance everything and the result will not be good. So if the oxygen content gets decreased, before our earth steps in, we should take it in our hands. Here are a few steps to balance atmospheric oxygen.
- Invest in some plants. Plants are a wonderful way to increase atmospheric oxygen content. Plants like the Money plant, Areca palm and Mother-in-Law’s tongue plant are known to produce a good amount of oxygen.
- Stop massive deforestation.
- Reduce the burning of fossil fuels.