Carbon dioxide. Computer model of a carbon dioxide molecule (CO2). Carbon dioxide is formed by two oxygen atoms (red) covalently bonded to a carbon atom (blue). Carbon dioxide is a gas used by plants during photosynthesis to produce energy and release oxygen as a by-product. It is also produced during respiration, and released during combustion of hydrocarbon substances like oil and coal. Earth's atmosphere contains carbon dioxide, however high amounts of CO2 can contribute to greenhouse gas effects of global warming and climate change.
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