The Carbon Cycle Essay Example

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4THE CARBON CYCLE

The Carbon Cycle

The Carbon Cycle

Carbon cycle is the exchange of carbon between living organisms and the environment (Brown, 2013). It involves the element of carbon which exists within the natural environment in a fixed quantity. This element exists in a number of forms and therefore moves through the environment via the process of carbon cycle. The carbon cycle involves carbon as an element which has no ability to be broken down into simpler substances. The carbon cycle does not only involve the element of carbon but also involves other elements such as oxygen, calcium, hydrogen and nitrogen among others (Mcppherson and Sundquist, 2013). This essay will discuss the carbon cycle in geochemical and biogeochemical cycling.

Carbon as an element is commonly referred to as a “building block of life” since all living organisms are created from both carbon and carbon compounds. The volume of carbon on our planet earth is fixed but again the fixed quantity of carbon is also dynamic (Chapin, Matson and Mooney, 2002). This is because of the process they undergo of changing in state either from living to non-living organisms and vice versa. Carbon in the carbon cycle is released to the Earth’s atmosphere from carbon sources where it is then stored in plants, rocks as well as water. This process of carbon cycle occurs in a number of steps. First, the plants when exposed to sunlight undergo the process of photosynthesis which is a very fundamental step for it sustains their growth. They utilize carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in turn release oxygen as a by-product. On the other hand, humans and animals take in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide into the environment. The carbon that is stored in the plants are then transferred to the soil when the plant decomposes and also it is released into the atmosphere (Mongillo and Warshaw, 2000). This cycle continues through and through from the living things to non-living things creating the carbon cycle.

Over the past years, the rate at which energy is being produced from the use of fossil fuels have greatly increased. This has resulted to the rise in the carbon dioxide content within the Earth’s atmosphere (Trabalka and Reichle, 2006). This has in turn altered the changes in the global carbon cycle as well as the sustainable development strategies associated with the management of carbon. The emission of fossil fuels has raised at an alarming rate and have amounted to about 80% of the total global energy consumption as well as the carbon dioxide emission in the past three decades (Brown, 2013). The quantity of carbon dioxide emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels as well as cement production has been increasing rapidly. This continuous combustion of fossil fuels has significantly resulted to the alteration of the carbon cycle by excessive emission of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere which has led to the environmental degradation.

In addition, the rapid urbanization and exploration of land has contributed significantly to the massive emission of carbon to the atmosphere. For example, reclamation of large tracts of lands has mortified many peatlands hence increase their carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere (Chapin, Matson and Mooney, 2002). This has continuously led to the rise in the Earth’s atmospheric temperatures which indicates a negative impact to the Earth’s carbon cycle which also demonstrate a considerable reduction in the efficiency portrayed by the natural carbon reservoirs. This practice has considerably controlled the fate of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere acting as a key driver of climate change which is behind the present and future raise in temperature in the world climate (Trabalka and Reichle, 2006).

Moreover, human activities are significantly changing the global carbon cycles through acts of deforestation (Mongillo and Warshaw, 2000). Cutting down of forest area has increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere which in turn changes the global climate. Therefore, significant amount of carbon dioxide released to the Earth’s atmosphere is due to various human activities directed to the environment. These activities have been the primary cause of the alteration experienced in the carbon cycle which has in turn led to climatic change and global warming (Brown, 2013). These changes in the environment were noticed decades ago and are still being experienced today and also will exponentially increase in the future if relevant measures are not taken into hand.

In conclusion, carbon cycle can be defined as the circulation of carbon between living things and also the environment. Significant amount of carbon is released into the atmosphere in form of carbon dioxide and other type of gases. This reality is what results to global warming. Human beings are therefore changing and influencing the carbon cycles. This is done through burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Such activities increase carbon dioxide in the air which changes global climate. If these human activities are not controlled, carbon dioxide cycle would continuously be depleted thus leading to severe climate change and global warming.

References

Brown, D. (2013). Land use and the carbon cycle : advances in integrated science, management, and policy. Cambridge New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Chapin, F., Matson, P. & Mooney, H. (2002). Principles of terrestrial ecosystem ecology. New York: Springer.

McPherson, B. & Sundquist, E. (2013). Carbon Sequestration and Its Role in the Global Carbon Cycle. Washington: Wiley.

Mongillo, J. & Warshaw, L. (2000). Encyclopedia of environmental science. Phoenix, Ariz: Oryx Press.

Trabalka, J. & Reichle, D. (2006). The Changing Carbon Cycle a Global Analysis. New York, NY: Springer New York.