The Habitable PlanetHabitable Planet home page

Interactive Labs

Carbon Lab

Lessons > Curb Emissions > Step 1

In a best-case (but very unrealistic) scenario, imagine that scientists suddenly discovered an unlimited, clean, and cheap fuel source that emitted no CO2 into the atmosphere, thus bringing fossil fuel use down to zero. What would happen? Would the carbon cycle naturally bring atmospheric CO2 levels back to pre-industrial levels (below 280 ppm)?

Press the "NONE" button next to fossil fuel use to bring CO2 emissions to zero in the simulation. Then run the simulation for a hundred or more years to see what happens. Record your data and compare it to your previous entries. Answer the questions below.

  1. How have atmospheric carbon levels changed?
  2. Without any fossil fuel consumption, which parts of the cycle have improved their carbon levels in comparison to previous data? Which sections of the cycle have improved from the previous levels you have recorded but still are increasing their carbon levels?

© Annenberg Foundation 2014. All rights reserved. Legal Policy