The carbon cycle diagram serves to demonstrate how the various supplies of carbon on earth change forms and ultimately are released into the atmosphere in dangerous quantities, adding to the greenhouse effect and global warming.
Carbon is stored in various forms on earth. Below the ground, it's stored as the many fossil fuels used for energy. There are more than 1,500 billion metric tons of carbon stored at various levels in the soil. Over 41 more billion metric tons are deposited below the oceans' surfaces. Various levels of carbon are found in the air as well. Much of this is found naturally.
Balance of Nature
The diagram shows how nature balances the release of carbon dioxide with the absorption of it by various processes. For instance, the process of photosynthesis by phytoplankton absorbs 92 billion tons of carbon dioxide back into the waters of the oceans. This balances the 99 billion tons of carbon that is naturally released from the surface of the ocean.
After much study and experimentation, scientists around the globe have identified and pinpointed several such natural exchanges of carbon. At the same time, however, many exchanges of carbon appear to be out of balance and causing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air to be too much.
Scientists have identified several gases that occur naturally on earth that can contribute to the global warming effect due to being greenhouse gases. These gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. However, carbon dioxide seems to be the gas of most interest to scientists due to its significant increase in the past several decades. For instance, the activities of man are increasing the output of carbon dioxide more than any other greenhouse gas.
Carbon Cycle Diagram
The purpose of the carbon cycle diagram is to exemplify the natural balance of carbon and the processes that appear to be out of balance currently. The exchange over the ocean seems to be still in check. However, with the occurrence of industries emitting more and more carbon dioxide into the air, the balances of other processes are no longer equal. Previously, the process of photosynthesis took care of most of the carbon emitted into the air. However, with deforestation and the increase of industry, nature can't keep up anymore. This diagram shows examples of this.
Ways to Reduce Issues with Carbon
There are many ways to help reduce the unnecessary emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Many corporations are seeking to earn carbon neutral certification. This means that the processes they are using are balanced in some way with other means of protecting the environment. Another new concept is the idea of carbon credits. When a company or individual actively participates in carbon projects, it is possible to earn carbon credits. Many companies pay other companies for carbon credits. There are companies springing up worldwide whose missions are to do good things for the environment and be paid by other companies for doing them, providing them with carbon credits.
Hard Concept to Grasp
Until you actually see it depicted in the carbon cycle diagram, the concept of global warming and greenhouse gases is a hard one to fully comprehend. After seeing it in black and white, it becomes even more obvious that the exchange processes in nature simply can't keep up with man's endeavors. If something isn't done to reduce this significantly, the earth will be in real trouble someday. It is up to current and future generations to make this a priority.
The carbon cycle diagram certainly serves its purpose as an educational tool for both younger and older students. It's used in schools, workshops and seminars in order to teach the effects of an unbalanced carbon exchange. There are many solutions to this problem, once enough people are committed to working toward solving it. If everyone gets on board, it will be a much easier battle to fight.