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The human physiological impact of global deoxygenation

Martin, D; McKenna, H; Livina, V; (2017) The human physiological impact of global deoxygenation. Journal of Physiological Sciences , 67 (1) pp. 97-106. 10.1007/s12576-016-0501-0. Green open access

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Abstract

There has been a clear decline in the volume of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere over the past 20 years. Although the magnitude of this decrease appears small compared to the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, it is difficult to predict how this process may evolve, due to the brevity of the collected records. A recently proposed model predicts a non-linear decay, which would result in an increasingly rapid fall-off in atmospheric oxygen concentration, with potentially devastating consequences for human health. We discuss the impact that global deoxygenation, over hundreds of generations, might have on human physiology. Exploring the changes between different native high-altitude populations provides a paradigm of how humans might tolerate worsening hypoxia over time. Using this model of atmospheric change, we predict that humans may continue to survive in an unprotected atmosphere for ~3600 years. Accordingly, without dramatic changes to the way in which we interact with our planet, humans may lose their dominance on Earth during the next few millennia.

Type: Article
Title: The human physiological impact of global deoxygenation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s12576-016-0501-0
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12576-016-0501-0
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2016 Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Physiology, Oxygen, Hypoxia, Acclimatization, Physiological adaptation, HIGH-ALTITUDE ADAPTATION, ARTERIAL OXYGENATION, TIBETAN, HYPOXIA, OCEAN, POPULATIONS, SELECTION, COLORADO, RESERVES
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci > Department of Surgical Biotechnology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1530621
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