"The SF approach: an awareness that things could have been different, that this is one of many possible worlds, that if you came to this world from some other planet, this would be a science fiction world."
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.
Compare to the oxygen concentrator from Duel on Syrtis (1951) by Poul Anderson.
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