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The oxygen we breathe comes from plants.

Everyone knows that humans — indeed almost all animals — breathe oxygen (O2) and therefore absolutely depend on this molecule for their survival. However, we often forget where this oxygen comes from… and that is plants.

You may not know that during the first half of the Earth’s history (it is estimated to be about 4.5 billion years old), its atmosphere contained almost no oxygen: less than 1%. However, with the evolution and expansion of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae, precursors of plants), then of plants themselves, that changed. Both of them absorb, use and sequester carbon dioxide (CO2) during photosynthesis while rejecting oxygen as a waste product and this has gradually, starting about 2.3 billion years ago, increased the planet’s oxygen level to today’s level: about 21%.

A Reminder

I think it is worth remembering that it is thanks to plants that we can breathe.

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Oxygen levels in major cities have already dropped to dangerous levels.

The Amazon forest, heavily threatened by human exploitation, produces 20% of the oxygen released on Earth each year. The phytoplankton in the oceans that we pollute so heavily produce even more. Each forest chopped down and each parking lot paved reduces oxygen levels in the air and yes, they are declining worldwide, especially in our cities (it can be as low as 12-17% in major cities, easily enough to cause its citizens respiratory distress).

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Even plants on a windowsill increase the oxygen in your home.

Everything we do to “green up” our environment — cultivate a garden, grow plants on the deck, let climbing plants cover the walls of our houses, grow houseplants, etc. — is good for both our health and our environment… and also for the planet.

In short, we humans owe our survival to plants. Maybe they deserve a little respect!20170112a

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “Don’t Forget Where Your Oxygen Comes From!

  1. Pingback: Why Your Plants Make You Happy – Laidback Gardener

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