High levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) adversely affect human cognition. In 80 years the level of carbon dioxide can increase enough to cut human performance on complex cognitive tasks by 50%.
Predictions of a 50% cognitive abilities drop come from scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Pennsylvania. The study is pending, but available for reading online at the Earth ArXiv repository.
The results of the study explain the outcomes for the planet if carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions continue to increase.
Based on observations of the human behavior, especially those, who live in the most gas polluted environments, where CO2 levels are permanently high, scientists warn that in the next 50 years abilities to plan multi-stage strategies, respond to any change, have the power to make decisions and use new information to achieve goals will decrease.
In 80 years the level of carbon dioxide can increase enough to cut human performance on complex cognitive tasks by 50%.
Brain function drops as carbon dioxide levels rise
Frequently CO2 term mentioned in media concerns global warming, though what equally important is - concentrations of gases which affect human brain as well as the "lungs" of the planet.
Every zero after a digit - means bad news for office workers, children at schools and for everyone, who spend 70% of the time in multiple other than the home spaces.
The exact mechanism of how CO2 influences brain function has not yet been described, but several studies 2015-2019 converge in one result - confirming negative impact. Inhaling extra gas portion, the cells in your brain do not absorb oxygen effectively.
In 2015 the Harvard Research Center conducted an experiment — 24 people in an office setting — performed familiar to their usual tasks in rooms with varying or changing levels of carbon dioxide. The results and overall performance were evaluated by scientists.
Result. As CO2 levels were increasing, participants showed a significant decrease in decision-making ability.
*Studies used CO2 concentrations between 1,000 and 2,500 ppm, though in a 2002 study, researchers tested the air in 120 Texas classrooms and found CO2 levels above 1,000 ppm in 88% of them. Which means the "lab office climate" should be held in a more dangerous-but-close-to-norm conditions. This might only worsen the current results.
Complex cognitive performance drop. 25 or 50% it's up to us to decide
Scientists created a model of a classroom full of elementary school children, with the relevant breathing rates and room ventilation. They considered two possible emissions scenarios projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The results showed that in a natural-how-it-is-now scenario carbon emissions continue to scale, humans would score 50% lower on measures of complex cognitive ability in 80 years. For the conscious reduced level, the human performance would still show the drop by about 25%.
The only way we can act is to keep the CO2 level low as possible
"There's no way to solve this except for keep the CO2 low," Karnauskas (one of the scientists) said. "You can try to increase ventilation, but you're only going to be ventilating higher-CO2 air because it's going up outside."
Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration today is approximately 407 ppm. The indoor room's CO2 levels can jump to 1,000 ppm in 7 to 10 minutes.
In the natural-how-it-is-now scenario, the atmosphere would have a CO2 concentration of 930 ppm by 2100. So indoors, human breathing would take it higher from there.
As carbon dioxide levels rise, better ventilation won't be enough to protect us from its effects.