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What if humanity burns all fossil fuels it can find, putting the negative effects of climate change aside, would the enormous amount of CO2 in the atmosphere eventually make it unbreathable?

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    $\begingroup$ in what time span, if they burned it all in a day it would have a strong immediate impact. $\endgroup$ – John Oct 20 at 0:54
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Not directly. What possibly could happen is that rising temperatures turn the parts of the ocean anoxic, which leads to large releases of hydrogen sulfide, which is toxic: https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/ocean-chemistry-changes-triggered-earths-greatest-extinction-event/2500368.article

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No. For a start, humanity will not burn all the fossil fuels it can find. But let's suppose for the sake of argument that humanity recognises no restrictions and fulfils all its energy needs by burning fossil fuels. Only a limited amount of fossil fuels are recoverable; the vast majority will have to stay in the ground.

Oil, for example, won't suddenly run out. What would happen is that it would gradually become scarcer, and increasingly expensive to recover. Eventually it would become too expensive to burn, so humans would have to turn to other fossil fuels, coal being the obvious one. Some would be used to make synthetic oil, and some burned in its natural state. The world has very large recoverable reserves of coal There could be enough to last humanity for a thousand years, but eventually recoverable reserves would become so scarce that it too would become too expensive to burn and, like oil, would be used as a source of chemicals and plastics.

All these fuels together, oil, gas and coal, might conceivably be burned for 2,000 years before becoming too scarce and expensive to be used as fuels. During that time,plants,especially in the oceans, would not be idle. Much of the CO2 generated would be sequestered by natural means, and although there would be a big rise in atmospheric CO2 with consequent climate warming, it wouldn't be nearly enough to make the atmosphere unbreathable.

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    $\begingroup$ Once again, Michael, citation needed. The scientific literature oftentimes runs contrary to your claims. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Oct 19 at 7:50
  • $\begingroup$ I have explained that it is impossible to extract all fossil fuels from the ground, and even if mankind said to hell with chemicals and plastics, lets burn it all,it wouldn't make very much difference. CO2 is not very toxic,your longs always contain plenty, and air would still be breathable with1 percent CO2 as opposed to the tiny fraction of one percent we now have. If my tweets were often contradictory to scientific thinking, people would soon let me know about it, but they don't. $\endgroup$ – Michael Walsby Oct 19 at 9:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Michael Walsby: CO2 is not very toxic? The people around Lake Nyos might disagree with you, if you had a good medium: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos_disaster Also the approximately 90 people killed (in the US) by CO2 intoxication: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5380556 $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 19 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ Anything is toxic if you take too much of it. Dozens of culinary substances can be fatal if you take too much: water, salt, sugar, vinegar etc. Arsenic can be fatal if you take either too much or too little. In some circumstances oxygen and nitrogen can be toxic, Your lungs have a lot of CO2 in them at this very moment. $\endgroup$ – Michael Walsby Oct 19 at 18:49

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