Carbon Dioxide 101

WHAT ARE THE PRIMARY SOURCES OF CO2?

There are both natural carbon dioxide (CO2) sources and man-made (anthropogenic) CO2 sources.

NATURAL CO2 SOURCES

Natural CO2 sources account for the majority of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Oceans provide the greatest annual amount of CO2 of any natural or anthropogenic source. Other sources of natural CO2 include animal and plant respiration, decomposition of organic matter, forest fires, and emissions from volcanic eruptions. There are also naturally occurring CO2 deposits found in formation layers within the Earth’s crust that could serve as CO2 sources.

ANTHROPOGENIC CO2 SOURCES

Anthropogenic CO2 sources are part of our everyday activities and include those from power generation, transportation, industrial sources, chemical production, petroleum production, and agricultural practices. Many of these source types burn fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), with CO2 emissions as a byproduct. Of these CO2 sources, electric power generation contributes the greatest amount of anthropogenic CO2 to the atmosphere. 

 

Myth: Carbon dioxide comes only from anthropogenic sources, especially from the burning of fossil fuels.
Reality: Carbon dioxide comes from both natural and anthropogenic sources; natural sources are predominant.