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"We were essentially being shell-shocked by rapid change. That was one of the things you needed science-fiction writers for back in the Sixties, because we could cope with the future."
- Peter Watts

Oxygen Hip Flask  
  A small, portable source of pure oxygen for breathing.  

In the novel, it turns out that there is a small minority of people who are very adversely affected by higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They turn to a source of quick relief.

Whispers diminished to an occasional giggle as people bumped awkwardly. A cough. A faint, familiar hiss as someone in the crowd took oxygen from a hip flask, followed by a mumbled apology.

Remi knew he was a dozer when he lifted an inhaler and took a long hit of pure oxygen from a hip flask...

A green gas cannister at his belt showed him to be a dozer - one of those unfortunates more affected by excess carbon dioxide than other people. In most, such borderline susceptibilities caused little more than sleepiness or headaches. But sometimes a wild mania resulted...

From Earth, by David Brin.
Published by Bantam in 1990
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