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Not only does carbon dioxide leads to climate change, but it may even impair our ability to think.
Newer research shows that carbon dioxide in indoor areas may lead to decreased human cognition by the end of this century. However, this fate can be entirely avoided if the world significantly reduces carbon emissions. Unfortunately, this C02 impact on climate change can obstruct our problem-solving ability.
Air with a higher concentration of carbon can heighten the CO2 levels in our blood, reducing the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain, increasing anxiety levels and our sleepiness, and impairing cognitive function. It’s similar to a sleepy feeling you get after sitting in a stuffy room for a number of hours.
Since people started burning more fossil fuels during the 19th century, carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere have quickly increased. Presently, the levels stand at 410 parts per million (ppm), much higher than at any point on earth in the past 800,000 years. By 2100, carbon dioxide levels might be as high as 940 ppm if the current emission rates continue. Indoor carbon concentrations may be as much as 1400 ppm – a level much higher than ever experienced.
Published in the journal of GeoHealth, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder think that this concluding indoor level of carbon dioxide can be enough to see a decline in cognitive function. For example, researchers estimate that basic decision-making skills might be reduced by 25%, and more complex strategic thinking might go by 50%.
Professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and co-author Anna Schapiro said in a statement, “At these levels, some studies show evidence of significant cognitive decline. Though the studies contain conflicting results, and more research is needed, it shows that high cognitive domains like planning and decision-making are susceptible to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations.”
The researchers looked at the current earth’s emission trends and local urban emissions to discover how this can affect outdoor and indoor carbon dioxide levels and the impact on human cognition. They know this is a very complex issue, so the research may not see every variable. However, they wrote there isn’t currently much research on the link between rising carbon dioxide emissions and cognitive function.