Carbon dioxide

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definition CO_2, also called carbonic acid gas. A colorless gas which occurs in the atmosphere playing an essential part in animal respiration and the growth of green plants. It is formed by the oxidation of carbon and carbon compounds. Carbon dioxide is the most important greenhouse gas produced by human activities, primarily through the combustion of fossil fuels. Its concentration in the Earth's atmosphere has risen by more than 30% since the Industrial Revolution. CO_2 forms a solid at -78.5 °C at atmospheric pressure, and is used as a refrigerant in this form as a dry ice for the preservation of frozen foods. As carbon dioxide gas is heavier than air and does not support combustion, it is used in fire extinguishers. CO_2 is present in the interstellar medium and is one of the main molecules in comets.
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