Carbon is recycled and reused among living things on the surface of the earth and the atmosphere surrounding the earth. This is a natural cycle known as the carbon cycle.
In the atmosphere, carbon is present as carbon dioxide and methane as part of a layer of gases called greenhouse gases (GHGs). Other gases present in the greenhouse gas layer include water vapour and ozone. Carbon dioxide and methane are normally produced by plants and animals.
We need greenhouse gases to trap heat and help keep us warm on Earth. This is what we call the natural greenhouse effect. Without the natural greenhouse effect, heat from the sun would be radiated into space and lost, and the temperature at the surface of the earth would be much cooler.
However, human activity adds a lot more carbon-based greenhouse gases to our atmosphere, and as a result the greenhouse gas layer is getting thicker. This thicker layer of greenhouse gases acts like a glass jar, trapping heat before it can be radiated back into space. This is called the enhanced greenhouse effect. It results in an increase in atmospheric temperature and is contributing to global climate change.
One method of reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is by planting trees and other plants. When plants grow, they take some carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. This is sometimes called "capturing carbon" because the carbon from the carbon dioxide is "captured" and then stored by the plant.