Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is a natural component of air that helps reflect the Earth's infrared radiation back to the surface, causing heat to be retained, as in a greenhouse. Without CO2, the planet would be inhospitable, with daily surface temperatures varying by hundreds of degrees.
The amount of CO2 in the air had been relatively constant for ten thousand years until the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. Since then, the world’s population has grown tremendously, as has the use of coal, oil, and natural gas.
Because CO2 is a primary product of combustion, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been on the rise. At the same time, average temperatures throughout much of the world have inched up and other climatic changes have been documented, indicating a connection between our use of fossil fuels and climatic effects.
Actively growing forests remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Trees store the carbon in wood fiber, and release oxygen. When trees capture and store carbon in forest vegetation, soil and forest products, it is called “Carbon Sequestration.”