National Geographic : 2004 Feb
Land-clearing fires, like a blaze in a Florida sugarcane field (below), provide rapid and spectacular delivery of carbon to the atmosphere. But for sheer volume, noth ing compares with a coal burning power facility like Plant Bowen near Carters ville, Georgia (left). The conversion of fossil fuels into energy accounts for 80 percent of the annual human contribution to CO 2 emissions, with 60 percent of that coming from industrial nations. In China coal use booms as trucks deliver chunks of it (bottom left) straight from the mine to homes. Land-use changes such as deforestation are responsible for the rest of the CO 2 surge, prompting researcher Chris Doughy (above) to measure how quickly new growth in a logged clearing in the Amazon can absorb carbon and help reverse the massive outflow.