Oxygen depletion | AspenTimes.com

Oxygen depletion

Dear Editor:Wind power, solar heating systems, geothermal heat pumps, photovoltaics and other renewable choices are the promise of the future, not coal and not inefficient ethanol production.In his 1990 essay “Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere and Biosphere,” physicist Freeman Dyson makes a call to arms to begin to measure oxygen depletion: “The Pacific Ocean as a whole is already seriously depleted. It contains 50 percent of the planet’s water but only about 40 percent of the dissolved oxygen. So long as we are not measuring the rate of depletion year by year we have no basis for guessing how soon the asphyxiation of parts of the ocean might begin.”Dyson writes, “The reservoir of oxygen in the atmosphere is large but not infinite. It amounts to 1.2 million gigatons. Since 8 tons of oxygen are used up for every 3 tons of carbon burned, and we are burning 6 gigatons of carbon per year (1990 – before the current China), we might expect that the oxygen is being used up at the rate of about 13 parts per million per year. Thirteen parts per million should be measurable.””Whether or not the general public is concerned, there are important scientific reasons for measuring the oxygen.”Sven AlstromLawrence, Kan., and Aspen


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