You know that inexplicable way that working among cubicles or sitting on a packed plane makes you feel like you’ve taken an Ambien? Well, you now have another life altering issue to thank global warming for. The rising levels of Co2 in our atmosphere combined with the Co2 exhaled from breathing are having detrimental effects in small areas congested with people.

A recent article in Smithsonian Magazine by Joshua Rapp Learn, outlines how high levels of Co2 in tightly stuffed places like office buildings, schools, and planes can cause low productivity, fatigue, and even shortcomings in decision making.

“As temperatures rise- even allowing for air conditioning- the average temperature in offices is rising,” said Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn on Boston Public Radio Tuesday. “Crowded office buildings are full of people… and you end up  with relatively high and in some cases unhealthy high amounts of carbon dioxide released into the air. It lowers our productivity, it makes us more tired, and it makes us less able to make good decisions,” she Koehn said.

In May, Co2 levels reached 400 parts per million in our atmosphere. “Medical experts believe that somewhere less than a 1000 parts per millions of carbon dioxide is an acceptable range. In a crowded airplane waiting to take off, we are talking about 4000 part per million,” says Koehn.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, office buildings currently range from 600 parts per million to 1,200 parts per million. "Economies in climates that our quite warm over 75 degrees on average, have lower rates of productivity," said Koehn. 

Nancy Koehn is an historian at the Harvard Business School. Listen to her entire interview with BPR above.