Do Plants Release Carbon Dioxide

Do Plants Release Carbon Dioxide?

We all know that plants take in carbon dioxide that humans and other animals breathe out, and use that to release oxygen out into the air. 

But many aren’t aware that plants actually release carbon dioxide as well! When plants go through the process of photosynthesis, they also release half of the carbon dioxide they take in back into the atmosphere via a process called respiration.

Indeed, there is much about flora that we do not know. To learn more about this phenomenon, go ahead and keep reading. 

Breathing Flora

Photosynthesis and Plants

Before going deeper into the why and how of plants releasing carbon dioxide, it is a good idea to take a moment to go over photosynthesis.

We all learned in school that photosynthesis is the process that a plant goes through in which it “inhales” or takes in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and then “exhales” or releases oxygen back out.

The phenomenon happens because the green leaves of a plant absorb the sun’s light, in addition to water and carbon dioxide exhaled from other animals, and turn it into oxygen and sugars for the plant.

This process is the reason that there is no air available to breathe out in the world. Without plants and photosynthesis, we would not be able to do our daily activities.

The fossil fuels and other resources that we gather out of the ground today are all due to the oxygen provided by plants in the past.

Not only do the plants of the world supply us with oxygen, but they also absorb carbon dioxide from the air. Carbon dioxide, though not harmful in small dosages, is very bad for our health if inhaled in large quantities.

Plants help to clean up the air of excess carbon dioxide, keeping it breathable and survivable for us animals.

Combatting Aphids

Although plants are a key factor in our survival for helping to lessen the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment, it is very surprising to learn that they actually contribute to the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere as well!

Plants actually “respirate” or release half of their carbon dioxide captured back out into the atmosphere whenever they go through the process of photosynthesis.

So, while it is true that the plants do absorb a good amount of carbon dioxide, it is not factual to believe that they “turn it all into oxygen” or simply make it disappear.

This carbon dioxide that is released during photosynthesis comes alongside the oxygen that is expelled and contributes to the overall carbon dioxide content in the world’s atmosphere.

Plants actually contribute much, much more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than any modern human activity do.

Yes, even with all of our cars and factories, the sheer number of plants in the world is enough to dwarf our carbon dioxide emissions.

Plants: A Large Contributor to Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Yes, it is quite surprising to learn, but recent discoveries have unsurfaced the fact that plants are contributing large amounts of carbon dioxide to the environment.

As of 2017, it was discovered that plants have actually begun to see an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide they release in recent years. 

This is due to the fact that global temperatures are steadily increasing. As a result, plants are working harder and releasing much more carbon dioxide into the environment than ever before.

Whereas in the past, plants were estimated to only release up to 8 times as much carbon dioxide as humans, that number has jumped in recent years to nearly double- reaching a staggering 11 times the amount of carbon dioxide that human activities produce.

That’s almost more than a 30% increase than the previous prediction of carbon dioxide emissions coming from plants.

Due to this large increase in carbon dioxide emissions due to plants, it is becoming quite important that we as humans take strides to lessen our own emission of carbon dioxide.

Although it has always been the case that plants release more carbon dioxide than human activities do, plants have seen a sharp increase in their emissions as of late due to global warming.

Yes, this is where we as humans come in. Because of our advances in technology and recent heavy usage of items and facilities that release large amounts of carbon dioxide, there has been a spike in our own carbon dioxide emissions.

This has caused global warming. Not only is global warming an issue on its own, but the fact that plants are reacting to the problem by producing even more carbon dioxide makes things even worse.

Everything has compiled to make for a very big problem. It is projected that if the respiration of plants in an ever-warming climate continues, that vegetation in the world will soon be unable to absorb the sheer amount of emissions in the atmosphere.

This is why it is of utmost importance that we as humans band together and solve this problem before it can cause further damage to the environment and to the lives of plants and animals alike. 


So now we know that plants do indeed release carbon dioxide, and not only do they release it, but they release it in larger amounts than humans ever have.

Releasing many times more carbon dioxide than humans, or any animal for that matter, plants have been big contributors to both oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for millions of years.

The sad fact is that plants are releasing more and more carbon dioxide due to global warming, which will bring harm to the environment and to the atmosphere as a whole if it is not taken care of soon.

Hopefully, as humans, we can come to the realization that our activities have brought damage to the atmosphere, the environment, and various ecosystems, and it is high time that we take action to prevent the worsening of the state of our planet.

It is not too late to fix the situation, and to get carbon dioxide emission from plants back down to acceptable levels. But of course, it has to start with us.