Why do we need oxygen?

Transcript of video:

Why do we need oxygen to survive?

“Hey there and welcome to Brain Stuff. I’m Josh Clark and this is the Brain Stuff where I bring you a very important public service announcement about Oxygen.
Oxygen is probably the most important thing that you need, more than food, water, even hugs. You can go weeks without food, you can go maybe days without water, but within 10 to 15 minutes of being deprived of oxygen, your brain dies.

But have you evern wondered, “Exactly why do I need this oxygen to survive?” I’m here to tell you.

So, oxygen is the most abundant element on planet earth. It makes up 23% of the atmosphere, 89% of all of the earth’s water, and about 47% of the earth’s crust.
And it’s lucky that it is in such abundant supply because not just you need it to survive, but almost all living things with the exception of anaerobic life, of course, need oxygen to survive. Now, wait, you say, what about plants? Plants don’t need oxygen, they give off oxygen. That’s where we get our oxygen from. That is true. Photosynthesis does produce oxygen as a byproduct and you do that that oxygen if for yourself. But, when the sun’s not out and all the humans are sleeping, and there is no photosynthesis, plants breathe. They actually gather oxygen from the air and from the soil through their roots, which they use to break down sugars to use for energy. It’s a process called cellular respiration and you do the exact same thing. In fact, now we’ve reached the first reason why you need oxygen to survive.

Cellular respiration.
In cells throughout your body, there’s all manner of functions and processes being carried out. And all of this stuff is powered by cellular respiration, where carbohydrates are broken down in the presence of oxygen into something called adenosine triphosphate or ATP. Now ATP is an energy source that can be used for just about any function by just about any cell in the body. It’s kind of like the common currency of all cellular processes. So you can think of cellular respiration as the process of converting carbohydrates into ATP in a similar way where foreign currencies are converted into dollars at the cambio. You can take those dollars and use them in any cell you like. Cellular respiration also produces a couple of byproducts as well, mainly CO2, carbon dioxide, H2O, water, and heat. And that heat
is the second reason you need oxygen to survive.

Heat.
Since all of our cellular processes are being fueled by this oxygen that’s carrying out cellular respiration and also producing heat, it’s pretty clever and efficient to use that heat to warm said body. So everything we do from thinking, to running, to going like this, uses cellular respiration. It this produces heat, which keeps our body temperature at a nice, warm, toasty state. Well, let’s get back to those byproducts again. Remember, you produce carbon dioxide and excess water during cellular respiration, and you body has to get rid of that stuff somehow. So, let’s think. If you need to take in oxygen from the environment, and you need to get rid of waste CO2 and excess water, what could you possibly do that would lick both of these at the same time? Breathing does this. It’s actually an elegant solution to what I like to call the conundrum of the aerobic organism.

So, are you pretty good at breathing?”

 

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