Tampa Bay Ecosystem Services
A Stable Climate
Stored carbon provides a more stable climate by reducing greenhouse gasses. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2010, CO2 accounted for about 84% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth's carbon cycle (the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals). Human activities are altering the carbon cycle--both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and by influencing the ability of natural sinks, like forests, to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. The main human activity that emits CO2 is the combustion of fossil fuels (coal, natural gas, and oil) for energy and transportation, although certain industrial processes and land-use changes also emit CO2. While it is important to reduce the CO2 released into the atmosphere and to promote and provide efficient ways for natural systems to store carbon, the carbon stored in soils, trees, and other plants can minimize the monetized damages associated with an incremental increase in carbon emissions. These damages, called the social cost of carbon, include, but are not limited to, changes in net agricultural productivity, human health, and property damages from increased flood risk.