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What is the difference between Carbon and CO2 when reducing carbon footprints?


A simple primer on Carbon and CO2.


This is often a point of confusion when reading about climate change. The Landscape Carbon Calculator is measuring Carbon Dioxide. It is typical for Carbon and CO2 to be used interchangeably in daily conversation. Carbon is often used as “short” for carbon dioxide, but they are indeed different, vastly different.

Carbon is an element represented by ‘C’ on the periodic table. It is one of the building blocks of life here on earth.


Carbon dioxide molecule

Carbon Dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas comprised of and two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom, CO2. Carbon dioxide has a heavier atomic weight, which is especially important to consider when calculating carbon emissions and sequestration. Approximately 3.67x the weight!

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is exhaled by animals and can be produced by burning and decaying plant and animal matter, burning fossil fuels, etc., and is absorbed by plants during photosynthesis.


Carbon Dioxide serves an essential purpose as an atmospheric gas, filtering out some of the sun’s rays and helping keep the planet warm



If we intend to measure and improve our landscape designs to have a positive impact on climate, it is important to distinguish between carbon and carbon dioxide.


Carbon is a critical building block of life, and carbon dioxide is a gas (under most circumstances) that aids us in regulating climate when it is held in the right amount.

carbon cycle diagram

We simply have emitted too much carbon dioxide for the climate and all of the related ecosystems to function correctly……..  Climate Change.


The Landscape Carbon Calculator will help you calculate the carbon footprint for landscapes by assessing both the sequestration capabilities and the emissions of your project.



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