Why We Eat and Breathe

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Editors’ Note: The following essay is the basic and real science about the absolute role of carbon dioxide in the existence of both plant and animal life on this planet. The radical environmental left (think John Kerry, Al Gore, WEF, et al) has used climate and CO2 disinformation (think lies, myths, fraud) to push a socialist agenda to control the lives of all citizens in the must fundamental aspects. It is a path to tyranny. The miracle of life and the true science of life on this beautiful and bountiful earth should not and cannot be despoiled by an elite, powerful class of politicians and globalists claiming ‘settled science’ (there is no such thing as settled science) for their agenda of ever increasing power. Consider the following fact: today the earth’s atmospheric CO2 in parts per million (PPM) is approximately 400. In the age of dinosaurs, it was 6,400 PPM, 16 times as much. The earth was incredibly verdant, warmer than the temperatures today with many cooling periods and ice ages to follow over many millions of years and the dinosaurs evolved into weighing many tons because of the enormous food supply. There were no automobiles, trucks, planes, burning of fossil fuels or annual meetings at Davos. Gosh!

Spring and summer is the time of growth, with blossoms everywhere we look. Leaves and fruit on the trees, grass in the yard and pastures, vegetables in the garden, and crops in the field.


Did you know that all of this lush abundance is almost entirely composed of just two things? These are carbon dioxide and water. There are tiny bits of other stuff but basically, it is all carbon dioxide and water. This is the true miracle of life. Every living thing we see is made from air and water. So are we.

Have you ever wondered why we eat and breathe? Here is how it works, the miracle of life.

We eat and breathe because the cells that make up our body eat and breathe. All cells eat and breathe. Yes, plants inhale and exhale just as we do. They also consume food and water.


Our breathing and eating actually go together. We are part of what is called the carbon cycle, which is the cycle of life. Plants come first, then us.

The plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into big organic molecules. These molecules are circulated to every cell in the plant’s body, where they do two things. If the plant is growing then some become the building materials for that growth. In any case, they are also combined with oxygen to release the energy that came from the sun. All living cells need the energy to live.

The plants basically eat the carbon dioxide and water, while breathing in the oxygen. When the organic molecules combine with oxygen to produce energy, the byproduct is carbon dioxide and water, which are then exhaled. We are back where we started so this completes the cycle. Carbon dioxide + water –> life –> carbon dioxide + water.


When we eat the plants, or animals that ate the plants, we join and lengthen the cycle. Our digestive system converts the food molecules into organic molecules that we can use. Then our circulatory blood system distributes these molecules to all of our cells. There are trillions of cells in your body so that is a lot of mouths to feed, as it were.

We also inhale oxygen, which goes to our cells as well. Then just as in the plants, our cells use some of the molecules to grow with and combine some of them with the oxygen to extract the solar energy that the plants originally stored.

When things combine with oxygen it is called oxidation and the product is an oxide. The “di” in carbon dioxide is because it is a carbon atom combined with two oxygen atoms and di means two. This is why carbon dioxide is also called CO2. (Water is actually di-hydrogen oxide but we do not call it that.)

Oxidation releases energy. You can see and feel this with fire, which is very fast oxidation. Rust is very slow oxidation so you do not feel the energy coming off. When our cells oxidize carbon and hydrogen it is faster than rust but slower than fire.

The result is water and carbon dioxide which we exhale. And that water and carbon dioxide is again available to feed and power plants, so the cycle is complete.

Where do your carbon atoms come from? Given the carbon cycle, it is fun to wonder where the carbon in your body comes from? There are really two questions here.

First, where was the plant that started the cycle? Given our global trade that can be a lot of places. For example, my kitchen has orange juice from Florida, grapes from California, blueberries from Chile, bananas from Honduras, Coffee from Brazil, etc. I routinely eat this stuff so definitely have some carbon from each. Since I am not growing it is mostly used for energy, so I get some solar energy from each place. I like that idea a lot.

Second, where did the carbon dioxide come from before these plants ate it? Carbon dioxide circulates globally so it could be from anywhere. Some might have come from the plant’s own exhalation or the plant next door, or from thousands of miles away. Also, some might come from fossil fuel use or limestone weathering, making it millions of years old.

Speaking of circulation, the input and output of plants is so great that about a quarter of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is replaced every year. So when people say that our emissions are building up in the atmosphere, that is just wrong. Our emissions from burning fossil fuels may or may not be causing the carbon dioxide to increase, but in no case is that increase composed of a build-up of these emissions. Plants eat our emissions.

In conclusion, carbon dioxide is feeding a growing world. More CO2 is a blessing. If you hear someone call carbon dioxide “pollution” just say “That is our food you are talking about.”

Think about your place in the miraculous carbon cycle and enjoy the carbon dioxide.


This article was published by CFACT, Committee for A Constructive Tomorrow and is reproduced with permission.

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