Carbon Cycle Basics - Introduction

Carbon chemistry is well understood by chemists. 
Most of the rest of us just use carbon compounds as tools to do what we want without any consideration of how it all fits together.

So, where does carbon come from?

Where does CO2 come from?

Why is it important?

How does it relate to forests and the uses of wood?

Why would a write about carbon make the following statement:

“Our system is clearly dysfunctional, and in destroying soil, we are putting enormous burdens on future generations, we need to start to be behave as members of the land community instead of continuing to act like conquerors.” by Fred Kirschenmann, a North Dakota organic farmer who works at Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture as quoted by Stephen Leahy is a freelance environmental journalist.

Form your answers to these questions before proceeding and then comment on what we need to do better on this topic!

---------------------- Basic Ideas about Carbon:
Some carbon compounds are very short lived temporary storage items, like sugar, cotton, or wood.  Others are ancient and very stable, like diamond - almost pure carbon, or ancient and less stable but very energy rich, like oil and coal - fossil fuels.

Carbon has many cycles that function at different scales and time frames.  The largest scale cycle starts in the center of stars like our sun.  Smaller scale systems function at the level the Eaarth atmosphere, and still smaller scale carbon cycles function within plants and animals at the level of the cellular dimension.

Confusion about which level of scale one is talking about leads to many different problems.  This discussion will be divided up into the various scales and will start at the least complex and progress to the many different states of nature that depend on the current temperature, pressure and the dependability of these conditions for some period.
All 'life as we know it' (if you are reading this on the internet or off of a printed page, you are probably a carbon based life form) is based on carbon energy carriers and structures that were built upon carbon compounds.

The Peak Soil file appended below and available at the Earth Island link:

is really a discussion of soil carbon, but you have to look in the middle of the article to find out that that is the case.  Then the author misses the fact that there is a form of stable soil carbon that could accomplish a number of ameliorative functions if the facilities were available to do this.  Rather than dwelling on the deficiencies of the article is it much more important to integrate the various parts of the carbon cycle into an understandable whole.  For now it will have to suffice for the reader to search the various pages here to pull it all together.

The one major point to take from the Peak Soil article is that it all comes down to being able to afford to do the right thing all the time, PROACTIVITY.  Acting in this way takes resources and these resources are limited by the ability of the user to pay for them before using them.  We have accepted an economic design that is built on maintaining scarcity for the benefit of a few.  This is the major message of that article and of this site.  This must change soon - don't hold your breath waiting be that change.

More in the works - please be patient 8/18/2010 This is proceeding at a glacial pace - unfortunately the glaciers are moving faster than our understanding 1308.
Alan Page,
Aug 17, 2010, 5:37 AM