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Impacts of a changed atmosphere: Do increased CO₂ levels decrease human cognitive performance?

Huebner, Gesche; Lowe, Bob; Oreszczyn, Tadj; (2019) Impacts of a changed atmosphere: Do increased CO₂ levels decrease human cognitive performance? Presented at: International Conference on Environmental Psychology (ICEP) 2019, Plymouth, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

Introduction. Climate change has severe consequences for humans, such as health impacts resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, i.e. pollution, and impacts from a changing climate, such as extreme heat and flooding. There is a third, neglected, category that covers impacts from the changed atmosphere per se, i.e. a higher concentration of CO2. Do increased atmospheric CO2 levels influence human cognition negatively? Method. We carried out a rapid evidence assessment. Identified keywords were searched for in title, abstract, and keywords in Scopus and Web of Science. Results were imported into the systematic review software EPPI-Reviewer, and screened according to prespecified criteria. Results Five journal articles were retained after screening. The level of reported details did not allow a meta-analysis; instead, results were descriptively interpreted. All studies took place in environmental chambers in which pure CO2 was inserted to reach levels between 500 ppm and 5000 ppm. Two studies did not find any effect of CO2 on performance, but three studies found that cognitive performance decreased under higher CO2 concentrations. Conclusions. The outcome that human performance might decrease under higher CO2 is already in itself alarming but would have wide-reaching implications on energy use, e.g. of heating and ventilation systems.

Type: Conference item (UNSPECIFIED)
Title: Impacts of a changed atmosphere: Do increased CO₂ levels decrease human cognitive performance?
Event: International Conference on Environmental Psychology (ICEP) 2019
Location: Plymouth, UK
Dates: 04 - 06 September 2019
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/psychology-section/inte...
Language: English
Keywords: CO2, carbon dioxide, cognitive performance, climate change
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10158991
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