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How does carbon dioxide cause global warming?

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Quick Answer

Carbon dioxide contributes significantly to global warming by entering the atmosphere and waterways through many human activities, such as farming, industrial operations and changes in land use, primarily to agricultural production. Carbon dioxide occurs naturally through some activities, such as plant respiration, volcanic activities and the interaction between oceanic waters and the surrounding air. However, human activities increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, which in turn offsets the delicate balance of gases in the atmosphere and air temperature.

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Full Answer

Although it occurs in small quantities naturally, carbon dioxide classifies as a greenhouse gas, along with methane and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide, along with the other greenhouse gases, creates a heat-trapping effect in the atmosphere when produced excessively. These gases escape into the lower levels of the atmosphere. Instead of biodegrading, they bio-accumulate by forming tight bonds. These resulting compound molecules do not break down in the atmosphere. Instead, they build up in the air, much like a bathtub fills with water when drainage proves inadequate. The accumulation of carbon dioxide in the air stems from several activities, including deforestation and burning of fossil fuels. These activities reduce the size and efficiency of natural carbon dioxide filters or drains, which include large forests and land. In addition to creating warmer temperatures, excess carbon dioxide lets stronger sun rays penetrate the atmosphere, which also causes rising temperatures.

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