They’re everywhere. Literally. And some people even tie themselves to trees to save them from being cut down.Is this love justified for something so ubiquitous?
Let’s look at the green part. It’s the chlorophyll in them that make them green. This helps plants convert light into food via photosynthesis, as anyone with a basic science education would know. But have you really thought about that carefully? Light -> Food. Can you do that? Here’s that light energy into matter link again. If you really sit down and think about just this alone it’s awe inspiring. Often we are like bored children who don’t recognise the seemingly magical right in front of our eyes.
A recent study estimated that in terms of pure mass, plants are the winners of the earth biomass contest by a large margin – 70 Gigatons, vs just over 1 Gigaton for bacteria. What about animals? Less than 1 Gigaton. a trifling insignificant number. So light does indeed make a fantastic amount of biomass. Plants don’t really move much and have abundant light and so it’s easy for them to become the biggest organism on the planet by pure mass.
Plants are producers in the food chain. Animals, insects and other organisms literally depend on them for food and these are primary consumers. This foodchain extends further as other organisms feed on the primary consumers – these are now secondary consumers. Humans are often both primary and secondary consumers, cows are primary consumers and lions secondary or even tertiary or higher.
What this means is that light underpins the entire phenomenon of life on earth. Literally. And plants are the conduits of the light to matter connection on which our lives depend.
As if that was not enough plants are also take up water from the soil and push it into the air via a process called transpiration. This would be unremarkable until we recognised that the plant doesn’t use 95% of the water it takes up. It appears to be designed to be taking water from the ground to provide water to the atmosphere, leading to rain, rivers and thereby sustaining life above the ground. So this green coloured plant is a light factory producing food, but gives us water trapped in the ground.