Carbon is everywhere—in the food we eat, the homes we build, the clothes we wear, the fuels we use, and even the air we breathe. It moves through nature in cycles and through our economy as commodities, goods and ultimately waste.
This cycling of carbon matters. It matters because the right balance of carbon between the atmosphere, plants, animals, soils and oceans is central to the healthy functioning of habitats and ecosystems. Indeed, it is one of the necessary conditions for life on Earth.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is also very important and acts like a blanket to keep heat in. Without it, the Earth would be a dead, frozen planet (like Mars). With too much of it, the Earth would become a pressure-cooker hot enough to melt lead (like Venus).
Fortunately for us the Earth has been doing a pretty good job of balancing carbon for millions of years to keep conditions ideal for the flourishing of life. But that could change.
As a result of increased emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have risen dramatically in just a few short centuries. Today, levels are higher than they have been for millions of years.
Science strongly shows that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are positively correlated with the Earth’s surface temperature.
Climate change is driven by the ever-increasing accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Such greenhouse gases can absorb and reflect infrared radiation (or heat) from the sun as it leaves the surface of the planet. Over time, heat is reabsorbed by the land and oceans and ultimately warms the planet.
A changing climate poses many risks to nature and society, including an intensification of weather and storm systems, changes in precipitation patterns, melting glaciers and ice caps, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification. Ultimately, many parts of the world could experience major climatic shifts, wide-spread extinction events, ecosystem failures, and social, economic and political collapse.
Clearly, something to pay attention to.