Life on earth is only possible because there is an oxygen atmosphere around the planet. But our atmosphere is anything but self-evident. After all, oxygen is permanently consumed. So who makes sure that we don't run out of air?
Without trees, we would run out of oxygen soon
Right – trees, forests and plants in general. They are not only a biotope in which humans, animals and other plants thrive, but also provide the production of oxygen through hard daily work. At the same time, they extract pollutants from the atmosphere by binding CO2. This happens through the process of photosynthesis.
What is photosynthesis?
The process of photosynthesis is done by plants, but especially by algae, plankton and some bacteria. In photosynthesis, light is converted into chemical energy to finally create a nutrient-rich substance – glucose. The key factor in photosynthesis is chlorophyll, also called chlorophyll. The dye plays an important role in the absorption and conversion of light.
Since chlorophyll is found in the leaves or needles of trees and plants, photosynthesis takes place in these green parts. The bound and transformed light is needed to incorporate CO2 into the process of glucose production. The harmful carbon dioxide is removed from the environment, and conversely the plant releases oxygen during photosynthesis to a certain extent as a "waste product". For the tree, the process is ultimately a means of generating nutrients. It needs the glucose in order to convert it into starch later and thus obtain nutrients.
Power for Oxygen: So much oxygen produced by a single tree
It is astonishing how much oxygen a single tree can produce. Depending on the size, and of course the sunlight, trees can produce the breathing air for 10 to 50 people. A single tree already binds 5-6 tons of carbon dioxide annually at a young age! Added to this is the filtering capacity of trees, which filter dust and other pollutants from the air. This is why breathing in the forest does us so much good. Trees provide this performance in abundance, and without us having to take special care of them – on the contrary, most forests are better off if people hold back on interfering with nature.
Where does photosynthesis take place on a very large scale?
Once you understand how abundant and reliable the oxygen production of plants is, the importance of forests becomes even more obvious. But it is not the forests on land that are the largest producers of oxygen.
The phytoplankton drifting in the oceans also performs photosynthesis. Researchers estimate that the tiny cells bind at least as much CO2 as all plants on the Earth's land mass – possibly even more. An estimated 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide are extracted from the atmosphere every year by the "forest under the sea" alone and converted into oxygen. In addition to binding sinking carbon dioxide in the depths of the oceans, the plant plankton ensures an immense exchange of CO2 and oxygen in the bright, sunny upper reaches of the seas – according to some scientists, the entire atmosphere is completely renewed here every six years.
Astonishing chemical achievements
Not only the impressive giant trees of tropical forests, but also the barely visible suspended matter in the oceans allow us to continue to take a breath. In order for this to remain so, we must contribute to ensuring that our forests are valued, protected and where necessary reforested. Through our partnership with the organisations OneTreePlanted, we at NIKIN help to ensure that the world's forests continue to produce oxygen through photosynthesis for our children and grandchildren – and you can make your contribution too!