The carbon cycle explains how carbon circulates around the Earth:

  1. Enter the atmosphere: Carbon enters the atmosphere as carbon dioxide from breathing and burning carbon.
  2. Absorbed by plants: The carbon dioxide is then absorbed by plants through photosynthesis.
  3. Animals eat the plants: Most of the carbon dioxide from the plant is exhaled during breathing (respiration.)
  4. Becoming a fossil: When the animal dies, it is eaten by decomposers, with the carbon in their bodies returning to the atmosphere. This doesn’t always happen – the carbon is sometimes stored in the ground, which could be used for fossil fuels.