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New Report Explores Details of Carbon Cycle, Storage of Carbon

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A new report from Dovetail Partners, a Minneapolis, Minn., USA-based non-profit, examines the carbon cycle and the storage of carbon. This report starts from square one in understanding the building blocks of carbon science and the policy impacts.

Carbon is a basic chemical component of all living organisms and many non-living substances. Carbon exists in plants, soils, the air, people, buildings, and many other things.

The places where carbon is stored are called "carbon pools." The largest such pools are the oceans, the land and vegetation, and the atmosphere. When a pool gains more carbon than it loses over a period of time, it is called a "carbon sink." Carbon is continually cycled between various "carbon pools" and "carbon sinks."

"When it comes to understanding the problem posed by fossil-fuels, what it boils down to is that for millions of years fossil carbon was captured and stored in the earth, and today there is no natural mechanism for either capturing the full amount of carbon released through its burning, or for restoring that carbon to the carbon pool where it originated. The net effect is an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere," Dr. Jim Bowyer, lead author on the report, explains.

Forests, on the other hand, both emit and absorb carbon in a two-way flow. Biogenic carbon is captured and stored in plants, trees, soils, and other renewable materials. This natural carbon cycle is ongoing, balanced, and a result of the fundamental principles of renewable materials.

"The carbon storage and re-capture differences between renewable and non-renewable materials are dramatic. These differences are sometimes overlooked or discounted in discussions of environmental policy," reports Bowyer.

More information is available online, as is access to the full report.


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