Carbon dioxide is a colorless, non-organic compound that is a gas at room temperature and comprises about 0.03 percent of Earth's atmosphere. It is produced when materials that contain carbon are combusted, and it is one of the most prevalent greenhouse gases that trap heat within the Earth's atmosphere.Know More
Chemically, each molecule of carbon dioxide is composed of one atom or carbon and two atoms of oxygen, covalently bound together. Carbon dioxide gas is produced and excreted naturally by animals as a byproduct of respiration. Whenever you exhale, you are excreting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It is also used by plants to conduct photosynthesis, the complex series of reactions through which they are able to make glucose.
Carbon dioxide is of particular interest because of its classification as a greenhouse gas. Human activity is responsible for releasing increasing amounts of this gas into the atmosphere in recent years. Carbon dioxide is released when fossil fuels such as coal, gasoline and natural gas are burned for heat, electricity and transportation. According to the EPA, emissions of carbon dioxide in the United States increased about 10 percent from 1990 to 2011. Experts believe that the increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is contributing to global warming, and that reducing carbon dioxide emissions can help slow this process.Learn More
The Environmental Protection Agency explains that the ozone layer of the atmosphere, Earth's protective layer, is being damaged by human activities, particularly the production of greenhouse gases. These gases are known to erode the surface of the ozone layer, meaning that its protective properties are consistently being diminished over time.Full Answer >
In addition to overtaking and replacing native plants in an ecosystem, kudzu can alter the nitrogen balance of the soil and release dangerous ozone into the atmosphere. The vines also release volatile organic compounds into the air that can exacerbate smog when combined with other particulate pollutants. Kudzu's root systems can also drain an ecosystem of available water, leaving the few plants that survive its presence parched and dying.Full Answer >
Heat energy comes to the Earth as sunlight and leaves in the form of infrared radiation, but greenhouses gases trap some of the radiation before it can escape the atmosphere again, leading to the "greenhouse effect." This gives the atmosphere a great deal of its ambient warmth. However, as greenhouse gases have increased their presence in the environment, the temperature of the Earth has risen as a result.Full Answer >
The gaping hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere over the Antarctic was caused primarily by high concentrations of ozone-depleting chemicals called CFCs. The vast hole in the ozone was discovered by scientists in the 1980s, who upon discovering the dramatic loss in ozone cover, set to work determining a primary cause. They found excessive concentrations of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the area of concern; CFCs were frequently used as additives in spray cans and refrigerants, but are now banned in most areas of the world.Full Answer >