Why the Amazon Doesn’t Really Produce 20% of the World’s Oxygen

March 11, 2020

The latest news has been that the Amazon forest has been on fire. This brought up many questions, including why the Amazon is so important to the world and how we would be affected if it was gone. 

Some are worried that since this huge forest is on fire, it is risking the world’s access to oxygen. But is it really? This forest who has earned the title of “Lungs of the Earth” has been very overestimated. There are many oxygen resources in the world and according to several scientists, the Amazon’s contribution is close to zero. 

The Amazon contributes to our earth in many ways that we don’t know, but one thing is that losing the oxygen it produces will not harm our earth the way we think it will.  According to scientists the estimate of tropical rainforests responsible for photosynthesis occuring on land is only 34 percent. The Amazon rainforest is only about half of that. That means that the Amazon generates about 16 percent of oxygen produced on land. 

To get technical, trees don’t only produce oxygen, they also consume it in a process called cellular respiration. This is where the plants convert sugars that they produced during the day into energy, using oxygen to power that whole process.  To sum this up, during the night when there is no sun for them to go through the photosynthesis process, they absorb oxygen to do this process. According to researchers, they inhale a little over half of the oxygen they produce for the world. 

Although the Amazon does produce and consume oxygen, it stabilizes rainfall cycles in South America and is crucial home for many plant and animal species. 

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