The mechanism by which Earth self-regulates its temperature is called the carbon dioxide cycle, or the CO2 cycle for short. If Earth warms up a bit, then carbonate minerals form in the oceans at a higher rate. If Earth cools a bit, carbonate minerals form more slowly in the oceans. Plants use carbon dioxide and sunlight to make their own food and grow. The carbon becomes part of the plant. Plants that die and are buried may turn into fossil fuels made of carbon like coal and oil over millions of years.