Our lungs might be fine in that short a time frame, but the rest of the planet? Not so much.

Imagine if all the Earth’s oxygen disappeared. Not forever, just for say, 5 seconds? Would we just hold our breath? What would happen to the atmosphere? What would happen to the environment? Here’s what would happen if the world lost oxygen for just 5 seconds.

Take a nice deep breath. Feel how satisfying that is? What you’re breathing in is oxygen, that takes up roughly 21% of our atmosphere, with 78% being nitrogen. Although it’s not the most abundant gas in our atmosphere, it is the most important. Without oxygen, plants, animals, water and us humans wouldn’t be where we are today.

5 seconds may not sound like a whole lot of time to be without oxygen. Most of us can go at least 30 seconds without taking a breath, so…It would happen too fast for your body to even notice. Your breathing would actually remain normal. But as for everything else? Not so much.

In just 5 seconds, the Earth would look completely different. Without oxygen, you can say goodbye to the Hoover Dam, the Pantheon Dome and anything else made out of concrete. These structures would instantly collapse.
Oxygen acts as a special binding agent to concrete. Without it, concrete is just dust.

Speaking of buildings, any untreated metal would be instantly be fused together. This is because there’s a layer of oxidation on metals that prevents them from welding together. Without that layer, metals would instantly bind to each other.

If you happen to be relaxing at the beach at the time expect a severe sunburn. The ozone layer, our protection against the sun’s UV rays, is made of oxygen. Three oxygen atoms that have bonded to create ozone. Take away the oxygen, and the Earth would get extremely hot. There would nothing protecting us from the sun’s UV rays.

In addition to a sunburn, our inner ear would explode. Losing oxygen means losing 21% of our air pressure. A change in air pressure that drastic is equivalent to being at sea level and dropping down 2000 meters instantly. Our ears wouldn’t have enough time to adapt.

Having a good time yet? Well, don’t expect it to last long. Without oxygen, there’s no fire – the combustion process in vehicles won’t be able to occur. Any mode of transport that isn’t electric will automatically fail. Planes will fall from the sky, and millions of cars will be stopped in their tracks.

The sky would be completely dark. Before it hits the earth, light from the sun bounces off multiple particles in the air. Without oxygen in the atmosphere, there are less things to bounce off, and the sky will appear dark… almost black.

Oh yeah, and while all this is happening, the Earth’s crust would completely crumble. That’s because Earth’s crust is made up of 45% oxygen. Without oxygen involved in the surface there wouldn’t be much left. The crust would crumble, and continue to crumble until there’s nothing left, sending you and everyone on the planet into a free-fall.

Sound like fun? Probably not. But luckily you can take a deep breath of 21% oxygen knowing that this will never happen.

Subscribe to What-If on YouTube or follow the show on Facebook Watch.

[expand title=”Sources”] [/expand]
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments