Earth's Carbon Resources

Moore, et al. report a mass of about 7 x 1011 tons of carbon in the atmosphere as CO2 and about 4.5 x 1011 tons of carbon in vegetation as carbohydrate. The nominal percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 0.034 percent although in recent years this percentage has been increasing and a reported figure for 2004 is about 0.038%.

The World's Carbon Reservoirs
Size (Gt C)
Atmosphere 750
Forests 610
Soils 1580
Surface ocean 1020
Deep ocean 38,100
Fossil fuels
Coal 4,000
Oil 500
Natural gas 500
Total fossil fuel 5,000

This table of data showing the sizes of the various carbon reservoirs is from U.S. Global Change Research Information Office . The units used are gigatons or billions of metric tons, a metric ton being 1000 kg. A gigaton is then 109 tons or 1012 kg. While the accuracy of the data is not known, it serves to give a general idea of the places where carbon is to be found.

From a table on the abundances of the elements in living organisms, carbon is listed at 18.5% of the human body compared to about 0.03% of the Earth.

The amount of carbon needed for life.

Biochemical concepts

Chemistry concepts

Moore, et al.
Ch 7
HyperPhysics*****Biology R Nave
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