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YouTube Video

How Humans Disrupted a Cycle Essential to All Life

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  • This short video describes the natural carbon cycle with fun illustrations and details the ways in which humans have disrupted this cycle. 
  • The video proposes ways to restore balance to the carbon cycle through solutions such as planting trees, responsible grazing practices, and carbon sequestration. 
Teaching Tips


  • This video concisely explains the natural carbon cycle and ways it has been disrupted by humans.
  • The illustrations that describe the cycling processes are very helpful in visualizing complex science concepts such as photosynthesis, carbon sequestration, deposition, and marine carbon dioxide absorption.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should be familiar with the process of photosynthesis and the concept of carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.


  • The carbon cycle is described quickly but elegantly in this video, so consider pausing the video at different stages in the process to ensure students understand how carbon is moving throughout different Earth systems.
  • Not all solutions for reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are discussed, so consider having students research and illustrate different solutions than were not mentioned in the video.
  • Students could explore this interactive carbon cycle diagram and read this digital on the carbon cycle and climate.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a 5-minute video that presents a somewhat simplified introduction to the carbon cycle on our planet and the ways in which humans have disrupted the natural cycle. This resource is appropriate for those who are new to the topic. The resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • MS-ESS3-4. Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
      • MS-ESS3-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS-LS2-5. Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere.
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