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When people breathe, they exhale carbon dioxide. Does this contribute to climate change?

No. Human respiration of carbon dioxide (CO2) does not contribute to the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere. This is because the amount of CO2 people exhale cannot be greater than the amount of carbon they put into their bodies by eating plants, or by eating animals that eat plants.  Plants take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through photosynthesis.  So the carbon dioxide that humans and other animals exhale is simply returning the carbon dioxide that was briefly sequestered in plants to the atmosphere.  Roughly the same amount of CO2 that humans exhale will then be taken up by plants to start the cycle again.  To learn more about the carbon cycle visit: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/basics/today/carbon-dioxide.html and the carbon dioxide section of http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/causes.html.To learn more about sources of CO2, visit the CO2 Emissions page. 

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Topic Information
  • Topic #: 23002-33640
  • Date Created: 7/31/2012
  • Last Modified Since: 8/20/2012
  • Viewed: 8892

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