The Carbon Cycle Essay

The Carbon Cycle
The element Carbon is the principle block for the organic compounds that make up life. This is because the study of the Carbon Cycle draws upon theories from biology, chemistry, geology and oceanography in order to understand the movement of carbon throughout the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere. Carbon is made up of four electrons that are able to form with each other; this causes the many different forms of carbon. The most popular form of carbon is carbon dioxide; this has become more popular over the years to the increase emissions of fossil fuels from human activities.

This causes a problem because the increase in the burning of fossil fuels will lead to an increase of carbon in the atmosphere. With more carbon in the atmosphere it can alter the temperature, and environments on Earth.

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In this research paper the carbon cycle will be evaluated. The essential parts of the carbon cycle that will be analyzed are the steps in which the carbon cycle functions, the effects that human activities have on the carbon cycle, the inorganic and organic sources of the carbon cycle, the chemical reactions that occur during the cycle, and the short term and long terms storage at each source.

It is important to evaluate all aspects of the carbon cycle because that information can be used to preserve and protect the carbon cycle as the way of life on Earth changes due to modernization and advancements in technology.

The carbon cycle began hundreds of millions of years ago, but in the past the use of fossil fuels was not as prominent as it is in present day society. The increase of the use of fossil fuels can have an effect on the carbon cycle, which is why it is important to understand all aspects of the carbon cycle and what humans can do to protect it. The carbon cycle is an essential part of Earth’s ability to sustain life because it shows the system of producing and recycling carbon in Earth’s biosphere.

The Carbon Cycle has seven main steps that occur in many different reservoirs, the first step occurs in the atmosphere. An atmosphere is defined as a layer of gases surrounding a material body of sufficient mass, such as a planet, and is held in place by the gravity of that planet. Earth’s atmosphere consists of oxygen, carbon dioxide and methane; both the carbon dioxide and the methane are made up of carbon, which shows how carbon is an important element to the construction of the Earth’s atmosphere.

The atmosphere plays an important role in the ability for the earth to sustain life because it protects the life forms on earth from the rays of the sun. Not only does the atmosphere protect the organisms on earth from the harmful ultra violet rays from the sun but it also acts as an insulating blanket. This is because the atmosphere of the Earth absorbs and softens the heat rays from the sun; the atmosphere is also made up of water vapor to ensure that life is sustainable. The reason why the atmosphere is a vital step for the carbon cycle is because both of the compounds, carbon dioxide and methane retain and store heat in the atmosphere and contribute to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect occurs when the sun’s heat is trapped under the atmosphere due to the thick build up of the Earth’s Atmosphere.

This effect causes problems for life on earth because it means that due to the fact that the sun’s heat cannot escape Earth, there will be high temperatures on Earth. The higher temperatures on Earth will have a negative effect on many ecosystems, especially in icy climates. The problem that these ecosystems will encounter is that the habitats will melt. The melting of these habitats will cause a change in the way these animals will have to live; there could be a decrease in the amount of a species because it could not adjust to the new climate. The carbon from the atmosphere moves from the atmosphere to the living and non-living organisms on earth.

The way that the carbon is taken from the atmosphere is in the process of photosynthesis. This process occurs by converting the light energy from the atmosphere into chemical energy while storing sugar bonds. This step of the carbon cycle occurs in one of the organic reservoirs, the plants. This is because plants were constructed as producers; this simply means that plants produce their own energy and food source. Unlike plants, humans are consumer because we rely on other organisms to produce our energy from food. The first step photosynthesis process is that the light is transferred from the sun to the plants.

The chemical that makes plants green is called chlorophyll and this is also the chemical that traps the suns light onto the leaves of the plants during the process of photosynthesis. The nest step of the process is that the plants use the energy, carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere to produce glucose and release oxygen back into the air. The reason that the process of photosynthesis is so important is because it absorbed the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releases oxygen, which is vital for sustaining human life. One of the ways that humans are impacting this stage of the carbon cycle is by deforestation. This is because as time passes the amount of land on earth for development decreases. This decrease in land causes humans to cut down forests which house thousands of plants, in order to create more land fro developments. Unfortunately deforestation greatly affects the ecosystems on earth and even the carbon cycle.

The reason that this human activity affects many different ecosystems is because although it seems like a simple solution to cut down forests to create more land, as the forests are cut down the many organisms that live in the forest are then at a loss of a habitat. Not only is deforestation affecting the ecosystems that live in the forests but it is also effecting the carbon cycle because without the plants the carbon dioxide is not converted into glucose and oxygen and therefore creates a lack of oxygen and increase of carbon dioxide on earth. This is a serious health concern for the people on earth because carbon dioxide is poisonous to our lungs and with an increase of the amount on earth it could cause a decrease in human population.

The third step of the carbon cycle is the most vital step in the world today; it is the production of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are defined as a non-renewable natural fuel such as coal or gas that is formed in the geological past from the remains of living organisms. The most important part of the definition is that these fuels are non-renewable because the creation takes millions and millions of years. This poses a problem because eighty-two percent of the present day world’s energy requires fossil fuels. At the rate the Earth is developing the amount of fossil fuels is dramatically decreasing the creation of more renewable resources is required. Some of these renewable resources include, wind turbines, solar power, and electricity.

The problem with electricity as a renewable resource is that it is still limited because it requires oil which can only be found in certain parts of the world and as of today the amount of oil is very scarce, so scarce that oil farmers are required to dig for oil in the middle of the ocean in hopes of finding more fuel. The process for the creation of fossil fuels on earth takes millions of years. This process begins with death plants. After the plants die layers of rock, soil, and mud cover the plants over millions of years, this causes the plants to get buried deeper and deeper into the ground. This is how the plants become fossilized because as the plants become covered by layers of rock, soil, and mud the water is exerted from the plants. After many years the fossil becomes covered with a carbonaceous coating, which is a coating made of carbon and rocks. This is one of the organic stages of the carbon cycle because a major aspect of this cycle is made from plants, which are organic.

An important aspect of the carbon cycle is that the reactions and process occurs not only in the soil but the ocean plays a major role in this step. The part that the oceans contribute to the third step is the sedimentation of the carbon. This process occurs because carbon is a slightly soluble element, which means that it can be dissolved easily into water. When the carbon from the atmosphere is transferred into earth it is soaked into plants though chlorophyll and it is also absorbed into oceans and lakes.

This process also creates limestone because not all of the carbon dioxide is absorbed into the water and in bodies of water with coral over many of years the coral uses the carbon to make limestone. This also shows how the carbon cycle is both important and versatile because it takes place in not only land but also the ocean.

The fourth step of the carbon cycle is the combustion and metabolism combustion that occurs through the burning of energy such as fossil fuels and food. This is an important aspect of the carbon cycle for humans and animals because the metabolism is when oxygen and food is used to produce carbon dioxide and energy. The process of metabolism occurs in the cells of living organisms such as animals and humans. This process is extremely important in order for these organisms to reproduce, grow, and can also help digestion. Metabolism can be separated into two categories the first category is titled catabolism.

This is where matter such as starches proteins and fats are broken down into simpler molecules and during this process energy is released. The second category of metabolism is known as anabolism. The process of anabolism is that the energy that is released during the breaking down of molecules in catabolism is used to create proteins. The process of anabolism has two steps, the first step is that the energy is used to produce amino acids. These amino acids are then used to create proteins, polysaccharides, lipids and nucleic acids. The reason that the metabolism and combustion stage is important to the structure of the carbon cycle is that it takes the oxygen and energy produce by the plants and breaks it down in order to release carbon dioxide into the air. This process is also important because it takes chemical energy and converts it into other forms of energy such as heat. This process occurs by the combustion of fossil fuels.

The process for burning fossil fuels to create energy begins with the mining or drilling of coal or oil in specific areas of the Earth that house these products. This procress is very dangerous especially when it comes to mining for coals. This is because the coals mines are deep underground and the workers have an intense amount of manual labor in order to extract the coal. Over the years there has been thousands of deaths of coal miners from the harsh conditions of the coal mines. The next step is to transfer the oil and coal into factories and power plants where these products are burned to produce energy. The use of fossil fuels to create energy was generated in the prehistoric times when cavemen would use coal to produce heat. During the eighteen hundreds the industrial revolution and the creation for steamboats and factories demanded the use of more coal. This changes the flow of the carbon cycle because as fossil fuels are burned they release carbon dioxide into the air. This is how the carbon dioxide reaches the atmosphere and begins the carbon cycle over again.

The problems that occur with the carbon cycle as the world becomes more modernized is the increase of the use of fossil fuels. The reason that the increase use and burning of fossil fuels causes threats and problems to the carbon cycle is because the carbon cycle is a natural process that occurs but the human impact is now altering the cycle. The increase of the fossil fuel emissions not only alters the carbon cycle but it also effect human and animal life on Earth in the form of greenhouse gases and global warming. The existence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is not all negative because without them the Earth would have no protection from the Sun’s damaging rays.

The problem that is created due to the increased amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is that there is an increase amount of greenhouse gases. This means that although the greenhouse gases are protecting the earth from the sun they are also trapping the energy under the layer of gases that create the atmosphere. This causes a phenomenon known as global warming. One of the problems that global warming creates from higher temperatures in a increase in sea levels. This is because as the ice is melted it allows for more water to be formed in the ocean. The problem that occurs with this is as the sea levels increase the amount of land decreases.

This causes many problems because at the rate that the world is increasing in population it is vital for an increase in land and with the increasing sea levels the result is opposite. Another one of the side effects of global warming include higher temperatures on earth. This causes a problem because the increase in temperatures will change the environment and effect many ecosystems on earth. An example of one of the most drastically effected ecosystems is the Antarctica. This is because the higher temperatures are causing the polar bears to lose their homes due to the ice melting. Global warming doesn’t only affect the Arctic but also many other animals that live are the tropics. This is because the types of creatures that live in the tropics and the rainforests are immune to environments with very little temperature change and with global warming the climate in these regions will drastically change.

This means that many of these species will have to adapt to the new environment and sadly not all of the species will be able to adapt and therefore global warming will cause extinction for many of the species of animals on planet Earth. Although global warming is an important problem caused by the carbon cycle, deforestation is also a problem caused by human impact that affects the carbon cycle. Deforestation occurs when humans demolished forests in order to create more land for development. This affects the carbon cycle because the plants and organisms that are used in the first and second step of the carbon cycle will be destroyed. It is important t note that the problems that are created in recent years are all due to human impact. This is a problem because the planet is not only the property of humans and humans sometimes forget they are not the only creatures living on the planet. Animals are an extremely important aspect to life on earth and humans should not only care for our survival but for the survival of animals as well. Although global warming is an extreme problem the only way that it can be solved is by changing the way of life for humans in order to restore the Earth.

In conclusion the carbon cycle is one of the most important and most prominent cycles for the transfer of energy on Earth. This means that it is a priority for the carbon cycle to be protected. One of the first steps that can be taken in order to protect the carbon cycle and sustainability of life on earth is to reduce the amount of fossil fuels that are used. This would be a challenging task because eighty percent of the energy produced in America is produced by fossil fuels. One of the ways that the fossil fuel emissions could decrease would be the use of renewable resources to power the cars and factories that currently use fossil fuels. Some of the renewable resources that would be the most helpful in this case would be the use of solar energy and wind turbines. This is because the sun is and infinite amount of energy that can be harvested to power up cities, cars, houses, and factories.

The use of renewable resources on earth would be helpful in decreasing the excess amounts of carbon dioxide and pollution but the other problems such as deforestation would take different measures. One of the ways that deforestation could be stopped and prevented would be for governments to impose permits on land that would prevent companies and people from cutting down forests. This is an essential aspect of increasing the sustainability of life on Earth because if the world continues to live the way that it currently is the sustainability of life will decrease and the life for organisms on earth will be threatened. The carbon cycle contributes to every organism that presently lives on earth and it is vital to understand the process of the carbon cycle in order to recognize the steps that need to be taken in order to protect it. The most important steps of the carbon cycle are the photosynthesis and the creation of fossil fuels.

The carbon cycle is a versatile cycle because its steps do not only take place one ecosystem but many. The carbon cycle is present in the atmosphere, in the soil, in the human body, on the leaves of plants, in the oceans and lakes. The carbon cycle has been around on earth for hundreds of millions of years and is vital in order for life forms to exist on Earth this is why it is important for humans to alter the modern day way of life so that the fossil fuel emission decreases, the deforestation decreases and the carbon cycle returns to a normal state.

Citations
Curtis, P. S., C. S. Vogel, C. M. Gough, H. P. Schmid, H. -B. Su, and B. D. Bovard. “Respiratory Carbon Losses and the Carbon-Use Efficiency of a Northern Hardwood Forest, 1999-2003.” JSTOR. 01 Oct. 2013 .

David. “Green Carbon Part 2.” JSTOR. ANU E Press. 01 Oct. 2013 .

Mackey, Brendan G., David B. Lindenmayer, Sandra L. Berry, and Heather Keith. “Green Carbon Part 1.” JSTOR. ANU E Press. 01 Oct. 2013 .

Malhi, Yadvinder, Patrick Meir, and Sandrap Brown. “Philosophical Transactions: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences.” JSTOR. 01 Oct. 2013 .

Toman, Michael, Aimee E. Curtright, David S. Ortiz, Joel
Darmstadter, and Brian Shannon. “Unconventional Fossil-Based Fuels.” JSTOR. Oct. 2008. RAND Corporation. 01 Oct. 2013 .

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