What is Carbon?

According to Wikipedia, Carbon (from Latin: carbo “coal”) is a chemical element with the symbol C and atomic number 6. It is nonmetallic and tetravalent—its atom making four electrons available to form covalent chemical bonds. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth’s crust.

Three isotopes  of Carbon

Three isotopes occur naturally, 12C and 13C being stable, while 14C is a radionuclide, decaying with a half-life of about 5,730 years. Carbon is one of the few elements known since antiquity.

Carbon is the 15th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, and the fourth most abundant element in the universe by mass after hydrogen, helium, and oxygen. Carbon’s abundance, its unique diversity of organic compounds, and its unusual ability to form polymers at the temperatures commonly encountered on Earth, enables this element to serve as a common element of all known life. It is the second most abundant element in the human body by mass (about 18.5%) after oxygen.

All carbon allotropes are solids under normal conditions, with graphite being the most thermodynamically stable form at standard temperature and pressure. They are chemically resistant and require high temperature to react even with oxygen.

Some of the most important uses are:
  • It makes up for 18% of the human body. Sugar, glucose, proteins etc are all made of it. …
  • Carbon in its diamond form is used in jewellery.
  • Amorphous carbon is used to make inks and paints.
  • Graphite is used as the lead in your pencils. …
  • One of the most important uses is carbon dating.

Any activity that affects the amount of biomass in vegetation and soil has the potential to sequester carbon from, or release carbon into, the atmosphere. Overall, forests contain just over half of the carbon residing in terrestrial vegetation and soil, amounting to some 1 200 Gt of carbon.

A forest is considered to be a carbon source if it releases more carbon than it absorbs. Forest carbon is released when trees burn or when they decay after dying (as a result of old age or of fire, insect attack or other disturbance).
Forests account for 92% of all terrestrial biomass globally, storing approximately 400 GtC (8), but this is not homogenously distributed across the Earth. Different forest types store different amounts of carbon, and much of this variation is related to the climate found in a particular part of the world.

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