Carbon dioxide strongly absorbs energy with a wavelength of 15 μm (micrometers). This makes carbon dioxide a good absorber of wavelengths falling in the infrared radiation region (1500 nm) of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Carbon dioxide moves persistently into and out of the atmosphere through four major processes: photosynthesis, respiration, organic decomposition (or decay), and combustion or the burning of organic material.
I visited with my mentor Dr. Garrett Hardin before he died and we discussed what every student needed to know about biology.
Upon reflection he quickly said that resistance organisms develop because of natural selection. The common capacity of bacteria and insects, for example, to pass on the immunity to the surviving generation.
Hardin feared that by ignoring the power of evolution further damage could be inflicted on the natural world and human health by the deniers of Darwin and Wallace's discovery of evolution by means of natural selection.
The complexity of biological resistance involves a basic understanding of feedback mechanisms that operate in physics, chemistry, and biology accounting for the unexpected outcomes discernible in natural reactions to human interference. It is this very feedback between plants and bacteria on one side and animals and fungus on the other that by exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide sustains life in an enduringly functional equilibrium on Earth.
What has happened in 20th century physics that bears directly on ecological problems is the duality of description inherent when comprehending elementary material particles. If duality is inherent on the sub-atomic and atomic levels of behavior, then comprehending how the world functions must involve similar reciprocal thinking when dealing with chemical reactions that drive, guide, and sustain life in all its complexity. Such complexity emerges out of simple arrangements in ever more variable combinations.
All atoms dually emit and absorb radiation. As atoms "shine" the particularity of their spectrum reveals their signature because the emission frequencies indicate a sort of signal distinguishing hydrogen from carbon, or oxygen from nitrogen.
But these atoms cannot emit unless they absorb radiation1.
At elementary levels the universe self-constructs matter and energy so tightly that a dualistic understanding is basic to comprehending the oppositional characteristics in how carbon emits and absorbs radiation in specified or distinguishable frequencies. That is to say thinking in terms of opposites reveals that carbon absorbs in the ultraviolet frequencies (high energy; ionizing radiation) and emits in the infrared (low energy; heat radiation) frequency ranges. The situation is not either one, or the other; but it must be both for a full comprehension of nature's functional and systemic organization.