Energy and Carbon

Energy and Carbon

All life on Earth is based on carbon, in part because most energy on Earth is stored as carbon compounds. Plants and algae—including phytoplankton—are the primary means of storing carbon in natural systems.

Burning plants—particularly fossil plants that have converted over time to coal, oil, and natural gas—is the most common way humans release carbon into the air (in the form of carbon dioxide, CO2). For the health of the planet, we need to have a balance between releasing carbon (CO2) and storing carbon. Currently, humans are releasing carbon at a rate faster than it can be stored, leading to changes in Earth's atmosphere and ocean.

Last Updated: January 29, 2014
Carbon forms living organisms, dissolves in the ocean, mixes in the atmosphere, and is stored in the crust of the planet. The ocean plays a critical role in the carbon cycle and is key to understanding Earth's changing climate. Video Length: 5:39...

Keeping Up with Carbon

Carbon forms living organisms, dissolves in the ocean, mixes in the atmosphere, and is stored in the crust of the planet. The ocean plays a critical role in the carbon cycle and is key to understanding Earth's changing climate.

Video Length: 5:39 min.

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NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming. Episode 1: The heart of global warming ©NPR

It's All About Carbon: NPR Climate Connections

NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming.

Episode 1: The heart of global warming

©NPR

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NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming. Episode 2: Carbon's special knack for bonding ©NPR

It's All About Carbon—Bonding: NPR Climate Connections

NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming.

Episode 2: Carbon's special knack for bonding

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NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming. Episode 3: If you break a carbon bond a—presto!—civilization ©NPR

It's All About Carbon—Breaking Bonds: NPR Climate Connections

NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming.

Episode 3: If you break a carbon bond a—presto!—civilization

©NPR

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NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming. Episode 4: When carbon falls in love, the whole world heats up ©NPR

It's All About Carbon—Burning Carbon and CO2: NPR Climate Connections

NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming.

Episode 4: When carbon falls in love, the whole world heats up

©NPR

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NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming. Episode 5: What we can do about climate change. ©NPR

It's All About Carbon—What Can We Do: NPR Climate Connections

NPR's Robert Krulwich and Odd Todd, in partnership with Wild Chronicles, present an animated cartoon series on carbon—the atom at the heart of global warming.

Episode 5: What we can do about climate change.

©NPR

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