A graphic for your fridge

March 8, 2019

Rebalancing our Carbon Cycle

This graphic is worth printing and placing onto your fridge, because it shows, very clearly and simply, the global carbon cycle that regulates our climate – a cycle humanity has knocked out of balance.

Carbon Cycle

Graphic: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Carbon is a very mobile element, moving mainly in the form of carbon dioxide, or CO2.  It goes up into the air continuously when living things exhale, when anything organic decomposes or when anything is burned.  It is absorbed from the air continuously by plants (mainly trees) and ocean plankton (single-celled plants that are the basis of ocean food chains).

Through most of human existence on Earth, the carbon cycle was roughly in balance (IE the same amount going up as coming down) – but it’s not anymore.  Since the industrial revolution, we’ve been digging up carbon-laden oil, coal and natural gas that were safely stored underground for millions of years, and burning it.  The result: way more carbon going up.  On the other side of the cycle, the plants of the world, impaired by human activities such as deforestation, haven’t been able to keep up.

The result: the level of CO2 in our atmosphere has risen from 275 parts per million (PPM) at the start of the industrial revolution to 412 PPM today.  That excess CO2 is causing global warming and climate change.

So the solution to climate change comes down to one very simple goal: rebalancing the carbon cycle, so the same amount is absorbed as emitted.  Every action that reduces the amount going up (IE burning less fossil fuels) or increases the amount coming down (IE planting a tree) brings us closer to that goal.

That’s why this graphic is worth printing and placing on your fridge: so you see it every day, and contemplate all the ways you – we – can help rebalance the carbon cycle.  (Don’t like this graphic? Try this one.)

(And, for a deeper dive, check out Project Drawdown, which details 80 solutions for removing some of that excess CO2 already up there.)

One Response to “A graphic for your fridge”

  1. […] are coming from and contemplate all the ways we can reduce them.  (It’s a complement to the carbon cycle graphic from March 13’s Green ideas, which hopefully made it onto your fridge […]

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