Carbon dioxide is a natural part of Earth’s carbon cycle: people and animals release CO2 through respiration into the atmosphere, plants absorb CO2 in photosynthesis, and decaying organic matter releases CO2 into the ground. CO2 is stored in the atmosphere, oceans, and other components of the Earth.
CO2 in the atmosphere plays an important role as a greenhouse gas by helping to trap the sun’s heat near Earth’s surface and making life on Earth possible. However, humans are pumping too much CO2 into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil). This CO2 cannot be absorbed by plants and the oceans fast enough, so it just collects in the atmosphere. This traps unnatural amounts of the sun’s heat and contributes to higher global temperatures.
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