Q:

What impact do humans have on the carbon cycle?

A:

Human activity impacts the carbon cycle by introducing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere: carbon dioxide accumulates in the atmosphere, changes temperatures and alters the salinity levels of oceans, disturbing the salt and water balance equilibrium that supports proper growth of marine plants and animals. Some carbon dioxide generation occurs naturally, although human actions, such as burning fossil fuels and operating factories, accelerate its creation and escape into Earth's natural environments. This translates to warmer air temperatures and higher acidity levels in water bodies.

Carbon dioxide forms part of the Earth's atmosphere, along with other gases such as methane and oxygen. These gases operate in a delicate balance, working harmoniously to regulate temperature, water storage and precipitation. The influx of excessive amounts of carbon dioxide in the air disturbs this balance. Carbon dioxide molecules function as temperature regulators. With less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, temperatures on Earth fall.

More carbon dioxide, however, brings warmer temperatures. This triggers accumulation of water vapor and additional precipitation. In oceans, rising carbon dioxide levels increase ocean temperatures. Warmer temperatures reduce nutrient quantity and diversity, jeopardizing plankton and other marine life. Higher temperatures also weaken shells of crustaceans and creatures with shells, increasing their vulnerability. On land, more carbon dioxide facilitates the growth of some plants, while impairing growth for others.

Learn More
Sources:

Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is deforestation happening?

    A:

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration lists agricultural expansion, wood harvest, urbanization and infrastructure creation as the direct causes of deforestation. Converting forested lands for agricultural use is by far the largest cause of deforestation. Conversion to agricultural lands primarily occurs in developing nations and is carried out by subsistence farmers, while other types of deforestation are triggered by economic growth.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is a positive human impact on the environment?

    A:

    A positive human impact on the environment occurs when a person takes action to improve society, nature and its resources. Acting positively, even in a small manner, has a major impact on the environment, especially when it is done consistently.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    Why is poaching bad?

    A:

    Poaching, the illegal hunting and harvesting of animals, has a devastating effect on both the individual species and on entire ecosystems and local communities. Additionally, continued poaching encourages and supports the black market and organized crime organizations that thrive on victimizing animals.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the problems with globalization?

    A:

    Globalization poses many problems, including increased economic gains for already powerful countries at the expense of developing countries, a more homogeneous global culture overall and a host of negative environmental effects. Globalization is the process through which countries become increasingly connected through developments in technology, trade and cultural exchange.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore