So the carbon atoms flit and flow around the planet, continuously being absorbed by plants, resting for a while (perhaps in soils as humus), before finding their way back into the air, over and over again, furnishing energy to countless creatures. This seamless continuity, surely one of the Creator's finest touches, connects us all. The carbon fuelling your very thought this moment will soon escape your lungs, and one day soon may reside in someone's banana; the carbon in that rotting log in the park may one day appear in your french fry.CO2 also serves another critical function-it helps keep us warm. Along with other greenhouse gases, CO2 absorbs energy radiated from the sunheated earth, keeping a layer of warmth next to its surface. We depend on this greenhouse effect; without it, our planet would be a frigid, barren place. If CO2 in air increases too much, too quickly, though, the enhanced greenhouse effect might become uncomfortable.Although trees and oceans mop up some of that extra CO2, they can't keep up. So the CO2 in our air keeps rising. Before the Industrial Revolution its concentration was 280 parts per million (ppm); when I was a student it was 330 ppm; today it is 380 ppm; and every year now it goes up about another 2 ppm.
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