Glossary of Environmental Terms - Carbon Dioxide
Dioxide : Carbon dioxide is a
molecule consisting of one carbon atom and
two oxygen atoms. This molecule is a common
by-product of animal and plant respiratory
functions and is found naturally in the
Earth's atmosphere as a gas. Carbon Dioxide
is also required by plants for photosynthesis
in which the molecule is used in combination
with water to create cellulose and sugars.
Since much of life depends on the production
and movement of carbon dioxide gas, it's
considered an essential component of the
carbon cycle, a term used to describe the
movement of carbon in and out of life. The
carbon cycle is essential to life on Earth.
Warming is based on the increase of
average surface temperatures and those of
the oceans. The Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that,
between 1905 and 2005, the average surface
temperature of the Earth rose approximately
0.74 degrees Celsius, or 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit.
They concluded that this rise in temperature
was most likely due to increases in greenhouse
gases over the last one hundred years.
Although the atmospheric concentrations
of carbon dioxide naturally fluctuate with
changes in temperature, seasons, and decay,
the average amount of carbon dioxide gas
on Earth has risen in recent history as
a result of burning fossil fuels. This rise
originated with the industrial revolution
and the mass-use of fossil fuels worldwide.
Although some increases in carbon dioxide
have been linked to burning of coal and
the large-scale burning of forests in tropical
areas, much of the increase has been attributed
to the finding and burning of oil and gas.
Considered one of the major greenhouse gases,
carbon dioxide helps to contain heat and
energy within the Earth's atmosphere. As
a result, scientists consider this gas a
major contributor to global warming. National
and international regulations help to curb
the output of carbon dioxide from residential
and commercial industries and vehicles,
but experts agree that more needs to be
done to lower the rising levels of this
gas in the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is also a common gas used
to create the bubbles in carbonated beverages
like soft drinks and seltzer. Since it pressurizes
easily and is not flammable, carbon dioxide
is also used for quick inflation of life
vests and for small pressurized systems
like paint ball guns and model cars.
Also called : Carbon or Carbon Gases.
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