26 Jun '11, 12am

The Carbon Cycle ~ ~ NASA Earth Observatory

The Carbon Cycle A previous version of this article, written in 2001, is now archived as a PDF file . By Holli Riebeek Design by Robert Simmon June 16, 2011 Carbon is the backbone of life on Earth. We are made of carbon, we eat carbon, and our civilizations—our economies, our homes, our means of transport—are built on carbon. We need carbon, but that need is also entwined with one of the most serious problems facing us today: global climate change. Carbon is both the foundation of all life on Earth, and the source of the majority of energy consumed by human civilization. [Photographs ©2007 MorBCN (top) and ©2009 sarahluv (lower).] Forged in the heart of aging stars, carbon is the fourth most abundant element in the Universe. Most of Earth’s carbon—about 65,500 billion metric tons—is stored in rocks. The rest is in the ocean, atmosphere, plants, soil, and fossil fuels. Carb...

Full article: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/?sr...

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