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Carbon Cycle

The carbon cycle is a complex Earth system whereby carbon dioxide (CO2) is exchanged among four main regions of the planet. In the carbon cycle, CO2 is recycled through the atmosphere, biosphere, geosphere and oceans and other waterways in what are called "sinks" or reservoirs.

Carbon Cycle
The carbon cycle is pictured.

In the carbon cycle, land plants and animals are the most widely known respirators of the biosphere. Plants take in CO2 and give off oxygen, while humans and animals do the opposite.

Issues such as deforestation, reforestation, increasing or decreasing human or animal populations affect the carbon cycle that happens upon land.

But, in the carbon cycle, the greatest exchange of CO2 appears between the atmosphere and the oceans and other waterways. Plant life in the oceans, lakes and other waterways use photosynthesis to turn dissolved CO2 into oxygen.

In the carbon cycle, carbon dioxide is taken from the atmosphere in several various methods besides the plant life already mentioned. At the Earth's north and south poles, cold seawater is especially accepting of CO2 making, the substance soluble.

In addition, the thermohaline circulation of the ocean and surface wind currents from the Gulf Stream drive surface water to great depths and distances, circulating soluble CO2 throughout the oceans.

Ocean of Motion ...

In another part of the cycle, oceanic plant and animal life absorb carbon in hard and soft tissue of the organisms. The weathering of carbon-containing rocks on land that runoff into the streams and oceans also add to the carbon cycle.

But, the most threatening part of the natural carbon cycle are the parts that are not natural at all. The burning of fossil fuels in the transportation industry and electrical generation in coal fired and natural gas fired power plants create an imbalance in the carbon cycle.

Manmade activities such as the burning of fossil fuels over the past 100 or so years have led to increased greenhouse gases that in turned have led to global warming. At least 999 out of 1,000 scientists agree on this fact.

Since it has taken decades for the carbon cycle to become out of balance, because of the release of greenhouse gases, it will also take decades for man to reverse the effects of global warming. This is assuming an earnest effort is made to reverse the effects, which is not a sure thing at this stage.

Using alternative fuels and particularly those created with renewable energy such as solar, wind and water sources will help the carbon cycle to get back in sync. Without these efforts, however, the natural carbon cycle will continue to erode causing serious climate change and geographical disruption.

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