Fact check: Plants cannot absorb all the carbon dioxide emitted into … – USA TODAY

A Dec. 29, 2022, Facebook post (direct link, archive link) features a photosynthesis diagram, with a plant using light and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and carbohydrates. 
“Remember science,” reads text overlaid on the image. “CO2 is not a problem.”
It was shared over 500 times in two weeks. 
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Carbon dioxide is used in photosynthesis, but plants and other natural processes can absorb only about half of the CO2 emitted yearly. The excess CO2 contributes to global warming.
By burning fossil fuels, humans are producing more CO2 than natural processes can remove.
Through photosynthesis on land and in the ocean, plus the absorption of carbon dioxide in seawater, natural processes remove just half of the carbon dioxide emitted yearly, according to Climate.gov data from 2011 to 2020The remaining CO2 stays in the atmosphere and contributes to global warming
Plants and soils together are responsible for absorbing just 30% of CO2 emissions. 
Vegetation is “not even close to taking back up all the carbon dioxide we’re putting in the atmosphere,” said University of Virginia environmental science department chair Howard Epstein
The excess CO2  “acts like a blanket across the Earth,” said Anthony Darrouzet-Nardi, an ecologist at the University of Texas
Commonly called the greenhouse gas effect, this phenomenon traps heat within the Earth’s atmosphere. The greenhouse effect contributes to global warming, which has caused “sea ice loss, accelerated sea level rise, and longer, more intense heat waves” as stated in an article from NASA
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In warmer interglacial periods, the CO2 levels of the Earth were at about 280 parts per million (ppm), according to NASA. Now, they are over 400 ppm
USA TODAY has previously debunked other false claims related to carbon dioxide, including claims that global warming is uncorrelated with CO2 levels and that an Albert Einstein paper contradicts carbon dioxide-driven climate change.
USA TODAY reached out to the social media user who shared the post for comment.
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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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