Impacts of Cellular Respiration on Global Warming – Term Paper

 Over the past 100 years, the surface of the earth has warmed by approximately 0.5 C. This effect is called global warming. Scientists believe global warming is mostly due to human technology adding gases in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is one of the gases that compose the earth’s atmosphere, and has a great effect on climate. Although some carbon dioxide is released by the cellular respiration of organisms, larger amounts are released when humans burn fossil fuels. Since the industrial revolution, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by about 25 percent.

As early as the 19th century, experts recognized that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere gives rise to a “greenhouse” effect. Think how the closed windows of a car or the glass in a greenhouse will allow sunlight to stream in but will prevent heat from escaping. Similarly, carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases,” such as methane, ozone, and nitrous oxide, allow sunlight to reach the earth but trap and reflect the heat. If there were no greenhouse gases, the earth would be cold and of devoid of life. Too great a concentration of such gases, on the other hand, would cause the temperature to rise. It is clearly evident that human activities disrupts the carbon cycle mostly it two ways.

First is by burning of fossil fuels and second is destruction of rain forests and other vegetable leaves that would otherwise absorb the excess carbon dioxide hence more carbon dioxide entering into the atmosphere. However, this paper will primarily focus on the role cellular respiration plays in global warming. According to (Frank, 2007) the process of carbon cycle produces food and oxygen that all living organisms live on. Part of the carbon produced remains in living matter; the other part is released as CO2 in cellular respiration.

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The CO2 released by cellular respiration in all living organism is returned to the atmosphere. In the atmosphere, carbon dioxide acts as a beneficial heat screen because it does not allow the radiation of the earth’s heat into the space. This balance is important. The problem is that as more carbon dioxide from the cellular respiration combined with that emitted from the burning of fossil fuel is released into the atmosphere, the balance can be and is being altered. Frank further warns that the recent increase in consumption of fossil fuels “coupled with decrease in ‘removal capacity’ of the green belt is beginning to exceed the delicate balance.” Massive increases of Carbon dioxide into the atmosphere tend to increase the possibility of global warming. On the other hand The Pearson Guide also ascertains how the atmospheric gases plays a significant role in the global climate and in shielding the surface of the earth the solar radiation.

The emission of carbon dioxide from cellular respiration and industries may affect the ability of the atmosphere to protect us and tamper with the world’s climate. The Pearson Guide suggests that the carbon dioxide released from the cellular respiration and burning of wood or other fossil fuels like coal and petroleum might sink into the plants or oceans but the excess ends up in the atmosphere which leads to global warming effects. About 10% of atmospheric carbon dioxide annually comes from photosynthesis and cellular respiration according to (Mongillo, 2000). This percentage is of great concern to scientists being that CO2 is the greenhouse gas which has the greenhouse effect. When this amount of gas keeps on rising as it has been in the past decades it will cause the temperatures on the earth’s surface to hike which will lead the global warming.


Frank R. Spellman, 2007. The Science of Water: Concepts and Applications, Second Edition. p 161

Mongillo, J., & Zierdt-Warshaw, L. (2000). Encyclopedia of environmental science. Phoenix (Arizona: Oryx Press. p 67

The Pearson Guide To The B.Sc. (Nursing) Entrance Examination. p 101