Carbon Cycle

How burning fossil fuel impacts the carbon cycle

Carbon that is locked in these fossil fuels does not cycle through the earth. When we burn fossil fuels, the carbon is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

Carbon cycle

When we clear forest, we remove a dense growth of plants that had stored carbon in woods, stems, and leaves- biomass. By removing a forest, we eliminate plants that would otherwise take carbon out of the atmosphere as they grow. We tend to replace the dense growth with crops or pasture, which store less carbon.

Changes in the Carbon Cycle

Left unperturbed, the fast and slow carbon cycles maintain a relatively steady concentration of carbon in the atmosphere, land, plants, and ocean. But when anything changes the amount of carbon in one reservoir, the effect ripples through the others.