Carbon Cycle Basic Information

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Carbon is one of the most abundant substances on the planet

But that doesn't mean putting more of it into the atmospheric carbon cycle is good... or even benign.


NASA Earth Observatory: Carbon Cycle Carbon is the backbone of life on Earth. We are made of carbon, we eat carbon, and our civilizations—our economies, our homes, our means of transport—are built on carbon. We need carbon, but that need is also entwined with one of the most serious problems facing us today: global climate change.

The Guardian: Carbon Cycle The carbon cycle is a natural and integral part of life on Earth. A single carbon atom stored in a blade of grass may shift to the body of an animal that eats the grass. When the animal dies, its body might rot, and the carbon atom could join with oxygen to form CO2 in the air. From there it might be taken in by a tree in the process of photosynthesis and used as a building block in a branch or trunk, or absorbed by the ocean. And so on.

Skeptical Science: Greenhouse Effect An enhanced greenhouse effect from CO2 has been confirmed by multiple lines of empirical evidence.

Skeptical Science: CO2 and Temperature Correlation Even during a period of long term warming, there are short periods of cooling due toclimate variability. Short term cooling over the last few years is largely due to a strong La Nina phase in the Pacific Ocean and a prolonged solar minimum.

Skeptical Science: CO2 Emissions - Human vs. Natural The CO2 that nature emits (from the ocean and vegetation) is balanced by natural absorptions (again by the ocean and vegetation). Therefore human emissions upset the natural balance, rising CO2 to levels not seen in at least 800,000 years. In fact, human emit 26 gigatonnes of CO2 per year while CO2 in the atmosphere is rising by only 15 gigatonnes per year - much of human CO2 emissions is being absorbed by natural sinks.

More to come...