Flexi Says: Humans have changed the natural balance of the carbon cycle because we use coal, oil, and natural gas to supply our energy demands. Fossil fuels are a sink for CO2 when they form, but they are a source for CO2 when they are burned. So when a car burns a tank of gas, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases just a little. Added over millions of tanks of gas and coal burned for electricity in power plants and all of the other sources of CO2, the result is the increase in atmospheric CO2. The second largest source of atmospheric CO2 is deforestation. Trees naturally absorb CO2 while they are alive. Trees that are cut down lose their ability to absorb CO2. If the tree is burned or decomposes, it becomes a source of CO2. A forest can go from being a carbon sink to being a carbon source if trees are not growing back faster than they are dying off or cut.