The Amazon Rainforest Doesn’t Produce 20% of Our Oxygen, Here’s Why

The Amazon Rainforest Doesn’t Produce 20% of Our Oxygen, Here’s Why

You may have seen images like this all over social media. The Amazon rainforest is burning, and these images have, understandably, caused international alarm, with media outlets, NGO’s and politicians all weighing in on the conversation about the value of one of the most unique and biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. Amidst all the discussion, one particular claim has stood out: that the forests of the Amazon are the lungs of the Earth, producing 20% of the world’s oxygen. But, that’s not exactly right. Now, the Amazon is the world’s largest remaining rainforest, covering between 6-8 million square km of land, holding millions of species, from plants to insects, birds, and mammals, many of which are yet to be discovered by researchers. However, it’s an ecosystem that is compromised. This year more than 74,000 fires have been recorded in Brazil, most of which are in the Amazon region. And because of this, many are wondering if the deforestation taking place in the Amazon will have a negative impact on our global oxygen supply, which in turn, has led to the claim that the Amazon produces 20% of the world’s oxygen. So where exactly did this figure come from? “This misunderstanding arises from the fact that the Amazon accounts for roughly 20% of the land surface photosynthesis on the planet, and photosynthesis produces oxygen and takes our carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. But the bigger issue is that it misunderstands what happens to that oxygen, and where our long term oxygen resource comes from. And the key thing to understand is that most ecosystems consume as much oxygen as they produce.” In other words, we can assume that the Amazon probably consumes the same amount of oxygen that it creates. “We estimate that about 60% of the oxygen produced by plants is consumed by plants as well for their metabolism. And the remainder is consumed by microbes, in particular, as they’re consuming dead organic material, and we estimate that’s somewhere around 40%. So overall, in terms of oxygen supply, the Amazon and almost any other biome on Earth is pretty close to zero, in the net amount of oxygen it provides.” The biggest contributor to Earth’s oxygen supply is actually within our oceans: around half of Earth’s oxygen is generated from marine organisms through photosynthesis. Phytoplankton are one of the primary producers, using carbon dioxide, water, and solar energy to create their food and produce oxygen as a byproduct. Okay, so you might be wondering if we did lose the Amazon completely, what would happen to Earth’s atmosphere? Unlike carbon dioxide, which has quite a low concentration in the atmosphere, with carbon dioxide at around 400 parts per million, oxygen is 21% of the atmosphere, so the atmosphere is awash in oxygen. So, if the Amazon was entirely disappear in flames, the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere would dip by just a tiny fraction of a percent. However, the Amazon still remains a crucial part of our global ecosystem. It regulates regional rainfall and by extension, the global climate, through deep tree roots that can access water and recirculate it back to the atmosphere, generating moisture that can produce clouds and rainfall. Most importantly, it acts as a carbon sink thanks to the process of photosynthesis, and that would be the biggest threat we’d face if we lost this rainforest. “So if the entire Amazon rainforest were to disappear, atmospheric CO2 concentrations would increase by around 10%, which may sound like a small number, and it is, compared to our fossil fuel emissions. But if this were to happen, our chances of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 concentrations at a level that we can say within a safe climate zone would be much, much more challenging.” So, all this is to say, that as the world considers how to protect the Amazon, it’s important to make sure that we’re equipped with the right facts when having these discussions. “I think this relates to the idea of the lungs of the Earth, which I think is a fine metaphor, if you just use it as a poetic metaphor of how important Amazon is. I prefer to think of as a global cooling system or a global pump. I think that there are plenty of strong scientific reasons to to protect the Amazon to value the Amazon. And it’s good to make the case for the Amazon based on where the science is strong. It’s dangerous to make a case of something that actually is a flawed scientific concept.” If you liked this episode, let us know in the comments below, and check out this video on what a cloudless world would look like. Make sure to subscribe, and thanks for watching.

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100 thoughts on “The Amazon Rainforest Doesn’t Produce 20% of Our Oxygen, Here’s Why

  1. Hi, thanks for watching! The team at Seeker continues to support the protection and preservation of the Amazon rainforest. As such, we wanted to take the time to address the misuse of the 20% statistic and take a deeper dive into Earth's oxygen supply because it’s crucial to get the facts straight when we’re talking about how we can safeguard it. Let us know if you'd like to learn more about one of the most unique and biodiverse ecosystems on the planet!

  2. What you guyz want to proof what about creatures, species they are innocent and they are deing and if this is true that it does not produce 20% by telling this what you guyz want to emphasize that just be relax amazon was not very much important, you guyz are just manipulating.

  3. You want oxygen do not deforest your own countries and expect Brazil,to keep the Amazon rain forest intact,You are not brazilian! You should have no saying in this matter.You sound like Macron who wants to internatiolize our forest,that little Pede,!

  4. People shouldn't be focusing on 20% oxygen thing. The rainforest has thousands of plants we never knew existed or used in medical research. There could be cures for all sorts of diseases and illnesses in there. It could be as simple as mixing them for a drug or drink or even a simple cream. And farmers are burning away those potential life saving drugs for land for their cattle. The rainforest should not belong to brazil but the World and we all need to come together to protect it. If it existed in any other country I would still say the same thing.

  5. Yeh totally some random girl knows more than a researcher and scientists….then asks some fake guy with airpods


  6. Our Science teacher told us to research about accidents that happened by “Light, motion, heat and sound” And my classmate did heat! And she chose “Amazon Rainforest Fire accident” TwT

  7. G'day I just wanted to add to this public forum..
    I don't know if you have ever considered this but all trees are like water tanks they store huge amounts of water. Collectively they store millions of tons of water. If we cut these trees down, all that water is released like smashing open a dam. All the water is released and eventually finds its way back to the ocean….. in turn adding to the rising of the ocean water.
    Bear in mind that the same water is here, that was here millions of years ago. It has not left the world, apart from a little that has been taken onto the outer regions of space with our space missions. Short of that the same water is here. We need trees to keep it on the land and not in the oceans….. we need to manage water. Trees are WATER TANKS
    If we don't keep them, we lose the water that they store back to the ocean.

  8. Make a video on effects of planting more trees with stats. That would be interesting. How much of our planet should be forested for a stable climate?

  9. I live in British Columbia and we have tons of forest fires every year. Even down here in Vancouver we get a thick brown smoke that lasts for 3 weeks on average. Yet I dont hear anyone wanting to donate money to our forest fire fighting, even tho we arent cutting down all our trees for profit.

  10. According to what you say, you and your channel is like supporting deforestation ??!!! People will take advantages and cut more trees because you said Amazon doesn't produce 20% of oxygen. We are need no worried and no use of having more trees if we depend our oxygen from the ocean. People will be like LET'S CUT MORE TREES THEN

  11. Scientists say that the Amazon river is responsible for 15-25 per cent of all oceans drinking water and is related to ocean currents and the weather, and dumps huge amounts of debris from the forest into the ocean and these nutrients feed phytoplanktons which are oxygen producers. So destroying the Amazon would affect the sea life as well.

  12. Even if we were not getting the 20% of our oxygen on amazon rainforest we need to save it becasuse amazon can also produce exygen for us even if it's not the 20%

  13. Although I respect the channels emphasize on the facts, I think it’s a horrible title that would mislead people if they don’t watch the content in a really bad way. The title could easily be made clear by stating the right info as well as the misleading statement. I think this would have a bad influence on people’s opinion of the function and impact of rain forest on climate change!

  14. 78% of atmosphere is nitrogen and that's why anyone who has taken high school biology is confused when they hear that even if it was 20% of our oxygen that it would matter… anyways I saw that it was 6% or less. Oxygen isn't a concern. People who use pathos don't use logos

    EDIT: Also most of the oxygen goes right back to the ecosystem that's why the oxygen concern is BS

  15. We must remember that most of the organic material that goes to the South Atlantic comes from the Amozon River from the forest that surrounds it. Without the forest, the river ecosystem would change and so the South Atlantic planctons would produce less O2. I believe the impact on the world's atmosphere would be bigger than this video implies.

  16. I live in an area with lots of unused open grasslands. Only 20% is grazelands. We need to spend money on every single square inch of space we trap before expanding to the natural resources.

  17. Please discuss the damage fire does to the warming trend for 1 more minute. When people talk about 20%, they are talking about the global impact. To say, "oxygen from Amazon stays in Amazon" sounds like we don't have to worry about Amazon AT ALL. (I know you don't mean that, but what do you think unsophisticated viewers would take away after 3 minutes of "Amazon oxygen doesn't reach us," and 30 seconds on carbon sinking?). You have college degrees, but 2/3 of us don't. Please elaborate a bit more on the carbon sinking side, so this episode wouldn't be used to justify burning it all down for soy farming.

  18. What people fail to realize is that the land that burned down the fields of ashes will grow into an even more healthier fertilized forest but it will take a century

  19. للامازون ضور فعال في احتواء ضاهرۃ الاحتباس الحراري و امتصاص الكربون و غازات الدفيءۃ و غازات الاحتباس الحراريومحاربۃ التلوت و التغير المناخي

  20. We still need to draw a line. We just going to keep chopping down and burning rainforests until we have none left anywhere?
    The flora and fauna on Earth are a major part of the equilibrium of this planet… if we keep eradicating them, we'll have problems we probably haven't even imagined yet.

  21. Our president here in Brazil is nuts.
    Congrats for channel.
    Im watching random videos from you to gain trust to watch about zeitgeist documentary.

  22. I'm joining the chorus of people who applaud your straightening out of the facts. It's errors like this that actually work against the desired outcome. The destruction of sensitive ecosystems will have many negative effects on our world, and we need to act quickly to avoid losing them. But let's not compromise that effort by making claims that are simply untrue!

  23. Lots of 'probably' 'maybe' and 'we can assume' in this video. Seems like a big spin to me. Makes me wonder who or what is funding this channel

  24. Meanwhile, as an aside, as global climate change proceeds, generally speaking, dry areas will become drier and moist areas wetter.
    Amazonia is noted for its rains, but it’s hydrological cycle is getting glitchy as evidenced by record breaking floods and droughts. With this in mind, think about how the deforestation of the Amazon basin will interplay with global warming.
    Note: You can be a climate change skeptic and still recognize that the Amazon’s regional hydrological cycle depends on the existence of the rainforest. Furthermore, weather patterns indicate that the diminishment if the atmospheric water vapor exiting South America will impact the Southwest in USA and even Asia. Everything is connected.

    samslair blogspot hydrological

  25. It don’t matter how much oxygen it produces, the only thing it matters is, there are people and species living in the Amazon and they are suffering even when they haven’t don’t anything to us

  26. Its men burning the forest down. Its affecting the animals and people that live their is more than a reason to stop the fires. WHY ARE WE NOT TALKING ABOUT WHO IS BURNING IT DOWN!!???

  27. The amount of oxygen that the Amazon Rain Forest produces is not the point. The Amazon rain forest is a CO2 sink, has millions of species and irreplaceable biodiversity, it drivers weather patterns in North America because of evaporation, is home to ancient indigenous tribes. Burning it releases CO2. Then, the micoorganisms consume the remaining organic matter which releases even more CO2. Then tilling the soil to grow the grain to feed the cows they slaughter for our Big Macs releases even more CO2. Oh, don't forget the methane the cows produce – 100 times worse than CO2. You should resign from doing videos. This is worthless [email protected]

  28. I have recorded a song for this issue along with the Mount Mauna Kea issue and the cockpit country in Jamaica it's on SoundCloud which the link is provided on my YouTube channel the name of the song is called Save The World 🙌,🌎🌍🌏, I have also released two songs on my YouTube channel please subscribe, like, share and comment and stay tuned for some spectacular work. Thanks in advance for it your support

  29. It's also important to note that the Amazon forest provides water for Brazil's southeast region. Comparing to other territories at the same latitude (e.g. Australia, southern Africa, Chile), Brazil's southeast should be a desert. This region is vital for our economy and population as it holds 80 million people (about 40% of Brazil's population). Without the rain forest, they would suffer from droughts. Agriculture, which is the main source of our GDP, is totally dependant on the forest, because most of the farming land is located at the southeast.

  30. Still that burning is criminal, stupid, maniacal and pure greed over common ecological sense. Our ecological systems are collapsing and propaganda to not worry, is dangerous. Like, your roof is on fire, and since you're downstairs, don't worry.

  31. Take a good look at all the misleading videos of the fires on the fake news. Most of it is brush and grass fires, NOT rain forest…. In most of these burn areas, if there was a rain forest, it was removed long prior to this. Plus, most of these fires were intentionally set by locals, just as is being done regularly in many other areas, such as Indonesia, Africa, and the Philippines (burning of the rice fields after harvest for example)

  32. Idk if this is true or not (HOPEFULLY NOT) but I read a news article about the Amazon fire and a part of it said The world is still coming to an end in a decade or so, according to some environmentalists. and omfg that has me crying of fear rn! does anyone know if that’s actually true???

  33. Guys nothing to see here. This girl obviously just got dumped by her 1 week boyfriend and just hates the world and everybody in it.

  34. Hi Seeker Team,
    All your videos are awesome but this video plays with human sentiments and true facts. Why do human have lungs to supply Oxygen to body and plants 🌱 and tree 🌳 do the same for our Earth and every one on on Earth 🌎 will agree to this whether it is Amazon forest or a single tree.

  35. No, the Amazon Rain-forest doesn't export surplus oxygen to the rest of the world but YES, it is an ESSENTIAL part of the oxygen cycle because it functions as a MAJOR nutrient source for the Sargasso Sea Algae. The Amazon is the atmospheric regulator in that region, supporting the local water cycle and micro-climates via a net pumping interaction on condensation from the Andes, which is trapped from the Atlantic Trade Winds. The consequence of this is that the forest rainfall supplies groundwater and nutrients to the rivers system that transports it with silt (estimated to be at a rate of 4 to 10 × 10^8 tonnes yr−1 ) to the coast, onto the continental shelf and into the thermohaline circulation.

    The Amazon annually transports an estimated 1.2 billion tons of sediments past Óbidos, where the narrowest downstream stretch of the river is found. Approximately 75 percent of the sediments transported past Óbidos reach the Atlantic in any given year. The other 25 percent are deposited in the lower 800 km of the river. Shore currents transport approximately 30 percent of the sediments that reach the Atlantic along the French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana coasts. Some of the sediments are deposited as far north as the Orinoco Delta. 

    The Guiana current is fed by the North Brazil Current a major source of water for the Caribbean Sea. 
    Water transported by the Guiana current also mixes with tropical waters from the N. Equatorial Current and eventually feeds the circulation of the N. Atlantic subtropical Gyre, via the Caribbean, Yucatan, Loop, and Florida currents.

    The nutrients from the Amazon are passed along the South American coastal regions via sediments and sea-life. 
    Eventually they are passed into the Northern Atlantic Gyre via sea-life (eg. Humpback Whales). In the cooler regions of the North Atlantic, towards the Arctic Circle, those nutrients become food for most of the plankton that supply our oxygen.

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