Sample Environmental Research Paper Summary on the Carbon Cycle

The Carbon Cycle

Carbon is an essential element in the earth and in the earth’s environment due to its existence in various aspects of the earth. Carbon exists in various forms in the land, sea and air and also performs equally varied roles in the life of mankind. The carbon cycle through which carbon is regenerated in the atmosphere ensures that a finite and quantifiable amount of carbon exists in the earth’s environment at all times. The roles played by carbon that make it essential to mankind are many. First, carbon acts as food to plants and animals since it is a constituent of various carbohydrates consumed by all forms of life in the world.

Secondly, carbon also has an essential role of controlling the earth’s temperatures through its greenhouse gases which absorb ultra violet radiation from the sun and thus guard the earth against excessive heat. Although carbon IV oxide plays an important role in life, the excess rise in temperatures results in global warming which has immense adverse effects (Field and Raupach 53). Processes such as photosynthesis which help to control the amount of carbon IV oxide in the environment are critical for the control of global warming.

Photosynthesis is the most essential process in the carbon cycle. It refers to the process through which algae, plant leaves and phytoplankton consume carbon IV oxide from the environment and convert it into energy with the release of oxygen. The process occurs in the presence of catalysts such as the sun and enzymes. Once carbon IV oxide is consumed by the plants, the energy formed is stored in the form of various carbon compounds in different plant parts. When animals and humans consume the plant parts containing these carbon compounds, the carbon cycle continues as the carbon is transferred through the food chain. During the process of respiration, the animals obtain oxygen from the environment and use it to metabolize the carbon in their bodies back into carbon IV oxide and energy. When the animals die, the decomposition of animals leads to the release of the carbon from their body tissues back to land (Wigley and Schimel 64).

The decaying plants and animals release the carbon into the land, which leads to formation of fossil fuels in case the process occurs in bulk, or is allowed to occur over an extended time period. Once the fossil fuels have been formed, they may be extracted and combusted leading to the release of carbon IV oxide, carbon monoxide, water and other gaseous materials. The carbon gases released are green house gases and get into the atmosphere. Once in the atmosphere, the green house gases help to control the earth’s temperatures; this may however fail when the amount of green house gases in the atmosphere is too high as it will result in excessive increase of the earth’s temperatures (Kondratev and others 139).

The carbon gases in the atmosphere are then absorbed into oceans and other water bodies. The carbon gases absorbed by water bodies form an essential part of the water and are thus absorbed by the aquatic animals and plants to form important constituents of their bodies. In the end, the carbon cycle returns to the land again when the organisms that absorb the carbon also die. In conclusion, the carbon cycle is an essential part of life that the world cannot do without. It is thus essential for the balance of carbon to be maintained in the environment as lack of this can lead to increased global warming.


Works Cited

Field, B. Christopher and Raupach, Michael. The global carbon cycle: integrating humans, climate, and the natural world. Washington, DC: Island Press, 2004. Print.

Kondratev, Kirill, Vladimir, F. Krapivin and Costas, A. Varotsos. Global Carbon Cycle and Climate Change. New York, NY: Springer, 2003. Print.

Wigley, M. Tom and Schimel, S. David. The carbon cycle. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005. Print.


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