What Is the Carbon Cycle?

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The carbon cycle involves trees absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen to keep the atmosphere balanced. Learn about the recent increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere with help from a science teacher in this free video on life science.

Part of the Video Series: Physical & Life Science
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to explain the carbon cycle. The carbon cycle is always existed. It's always existed because we and the plants on this earth are all organic. They're based on carbon. So all of our muscles, all of our flesh tissues, bone is basically basically compose of carbon or compounds of carbon. So what happens? Well first of all, let's look at the tree. A tree has a very device. It's, it is able to absorb energy from the sun and in absorbing that energy it uses carbon dioxide and water to produce energy, to produce sugars and we benefit from that 'cause we can eat the trees or the products of growing things to live. We can't do, we can't make our energy directly from the sun. So in the carbon cycle, we have trees and they absorb carbon dioxide. Actually at night they don't because they can't photosynthesize so actually at night, they actually rest by it just like human beings do. But during the day, they absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen and they keep the balance of our atmosphere. Now when trees dies, they decay, methane which is a carbon product, CH4 carbon with 4 hydrogens, methane goes into the atmosphere. This is also a carbon based material or if wood is burn and nowadays, it's burn in launch power stations, this puts carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So what we've got here is the trees are use to create energy which creates carbon dioxide, goes into the atmosphere and that carbon dioxide is absorb too by trees and this is the carbon cycle. It continues, it goes on forever. The problem is, if we cut down the trees, then we have got a big problem because we've got carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and that carbon dioxide is going to increase with time and we're going to have no way of controlling the amount of carbon dioxide and this is what we call Global Warming because the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing. And their carbon cycle is being disturbed by our putting too much carbon dioxide especially due to this particular things which you probably recognize as cars; because cars are natural producer of carbon dioxide, a heavy producer of carbon dioxide and they are what is responsible for the big increase in the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. So basically simply, that is what we mean by the carbon cycle.

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