Climate Change and Carbon Fixing Pathways

Overview;

OK, I am sure there are some heads that are beginning to swim and eyes are giving that "deer in the headlights" look. But bear with me, I will make this simple in this version of this article. In another article, I will go into specific detail. But one thing to keep in mind, as all you know, the whole Climate Change issue is a hotly and extremely emotional subject. In this article I will show you why we need Climate Change, we should embrace Climate Change or as some people call it, Global Warming. We need it, we have to have it, thank God we have it if indeed we do have it.  So do I make my position clear? I am going with it, rather it is there or not, let's just assume it is there. Even if it is a hoax, the stuff I am presenting is still factual. 

Carbon is one of the most important minerals of all minerals. Life, as we know it on this planet, is based on Carbon. This element is the focal point, the apex of the whole structure. Plants are of extreme importance. If we didn't have plants, well, well, we would not anything about not having plants, as we would not exist without plants. I am really trying here to point out just how important plants are. As most people know, plants breathe in Carbon, in this case, Carbon Dioxide. Plants then exhale Oxygen. Whereas us as people, Breathe in Oxygen and exhale Carbon Dioxide. So we have a very important relationship with plants. That is without question. In this article, we will look specifically at the process of how this works with plants.

This Carbon process follows 3 basic pathways, that are known at this time. Various types of plants will follow one specific pathway. However,  a few plants will sort of fit in where they use more than one pathway, ie; variations within each pathway.  But for the purpose of this article and for clear understanding we won't go into the cross over types and will focus on each pathway, specifically.  Those 3 pathways are as follows; the C3 pathway, the C4 pathway and the Crassulacean Acid Metabolic pathway, aka, the CAM pathway.  The 3 and the 4 numbers represent the number of Carbon atoms utilized in the first part of the pathway for each type.  It was about 50 to 60 years ago that this concept was discovered and these 3 pathways became known and were labeled.  Keep in mind that all plants live by Photosynthesis and simply put, it was discovered that the plants all do not Photosynthesize in the same ways. So with that, we will look at each one of these ways.

CAM Pathway Plants;

This pathway is found in plants like the Cacti, Pineapple, and Yacca. As you can see, these are usually the succulent type plants, so think Succulent/mostly desert type plants.  These plants are extremely drought resistant/tolerant. How these plants function is that the Stomata of the plant is the part that actually does the breathing. During the day, these plants will close the stomata to conserve water. Then at night, they will open to take in the CO2, (Carbon Dioxide). Since the plants live by photosynthesis, which takes place during the day time, the C02 is stored in the compound called Crassulacean acid, to be used during the day time, with the photosynthesis. That is where it gets its name, of Crassulacean. This type of plant is a very slow growing plant because of the stomata being open during the night hours, and since the summertime hours of darkness is not very high, the general idea is that it takes 4 years for this type of plant to get the same amount of growth that a fast-growing grass might get in one year.  As a side note, these plants are usually low in fiber and protein but high in digestibility. These plants tend to grow in areas of hot, dry climates and in soil that has a higher than neutral pH.  They are extremely efficient with the use of available water resources. People living in those areas will harvest these plants for domestic uses.  I have used these cacti plants as a refreshing snack when out in the remote areas and have found them to be tasty. 

C3 Pathway Plants;

This type of pathway is generally used by the cool-season grasses, broadleaf plants and the vast majority of trees and shrubs. Overall it has very poor use of water, ie; the poorest efficiency of the 3 ways with water use. Here is what happens with this process. The photosynthesis process has 2 parts to it. One is the light reactions, which requires light. Then the other is the dark reactions. This part doesn't require light, but functions in the dark. In the light reaction, we see the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen. After all, water is just hydrogen and oxygen, right? What else could we expect? The hydrogen is used in the dark reactions and the oxygen is cast off as a waste product. Within the dark reactions, we see the combining carbon dioxide and hydrogen, (from the light reactions), to form Glucose.  Which we know is that Glucose is a carbohydrate most important source of energy for all organisms. The actions here are really quite efficient, as both the light and dark actions take place in the same cell. So since both actions take place. So since this takes place in the same place, as long as the weather is cool and somewhat lacking in sunlight, the process works very efficiently. But as the weather warms and the sun shines more intensely, the light reactions speed up, and the hydrogen reserves grow low, the enzyme responsible for grabbing the CO2 will grab the oxygen molecule and the result is no glucose production.  However, nature has provided a safety net. This safety net to the out of control, the exponential acceleration of the C3 pathway is called Photorespiration. Within the photorespiration process puts a ceiling on plant productive during intense sunlight and high temperatures. Once the leaf temperature reaches around 85F-86F degree point the plant is down to about 50% utilization of sunlight and at this point begins to lose biomass. C3 plants do best, reaching peak production, which is at or about 77 F degree point. As long as the plant is hydrated, then a form of evaporative cooling takes place from transpiration can keep the plant from dying. However, there does come a point where the plant will just stop growing as the hydration level and temperature rations reach a certain point. This process is also helped due to the higher elevations and the latitudes more closer to the poles. Later I will show examples of what plants will do good in the environment where most C3 pathway plants thrive. 

C4 Pathway Plants;

C4 plants have evolved to where they are largely immune to the Photorespiration process. They have a different process of where the light and dark reactions take place. They take place in different cells. (So they are in essence immune because they don't use that process). In the C4 process, the light reactions take place near the surface of the leaf, in the spongy mesophyll cells. The close proximity to the stomata makes it easy for oxygen to escape. Then the dark reactions take place elsewhere near the vascular bundle (vein), in a set of cells called the bundle of sheath cells. The glucose can then be moved quickly to other parts of the plant. C4 pathway plants also have a mechanism that directly pumps CO2 from the outer layers, where the light reactions take place,  to the inner layers, where the dark reactions take place. Since the photorespiration is essentially turned off,  the fail-safe bypassed,  C4 plants grow rapidly in the hot, wetter, sunny weather conditions found in areas outside of the cooler, cloudly, somewhat dryer C3 plant areas. These plants reach peak productive point at about the 90F degree point.  Because of this "speed limit" being removed, the plant then becomes about 3 times as productive in its daily bio-mass production than the C3 pathway plants. These plants can be found in warm, wet areas where the sun shines more often than not, where the day lengths will be longer for more of the year, essentially the lower latitudes and in lower elevations. So as long as the C4 plants have nutrients, the photosynthesis will run indefinitely and produce high amounts of biomass. As a side note, the C4 plants only require about 1/3 of the water that C3 plants require. So as long as the nutrients are there, then the water becomes a limiting factor as to how much biomass they can produce, so when you allow these plants access to large amounts of water, the stuff just grows and grows. 

Discussion; 

I said that I would tie in the climate change/global warming thing. So here goes. In real simple terms, we need this climate change or global warming thing, we really do. We are told that CO2 production is out of control. Here we see nature taking this into consideration. Here is how it deals with it. As we see CO2 levels rise, we see a rise in temperature, so more carbon is produced, right? Well, not yet, well not sort of, but we see a particular type of Carbon being produced, the Dioxide type. As this happens the climate warms, so we are told, and as it does so, we see more and more C4 plants grow. I mean these C4 plants love warmer weather, right? So they grow and grow. As they multiply, then more plants will take in more CO2 and break it down into Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Carbon. Hydrogen is good, right? (Yes). Oxygen is good, right? (Yes). Carbon is good, right? (Yes).  And what about the awful CO2? It doesn't exist anymore.  Well, at least the problem doesn't exist anyway, in the traditional sense. There was a little process that takes place and that is called Glucose production. The Glucose goes into the Root system and a whole lot of activity takes place there that actually determines the health of the plant.  With the Glucose going to the roots, the Glucose also takes Carbon into the ground, which is also known as Carbon sequestration. This is where Carbon is basically removed from the air and deposited into the ground. This is considered to be a good thing. 

Along with this warming of the weather, we are supposed to get a rise in water levels. All sorts of gloom and doom come along with this. But I wonder about it all. Here is why. Where I live the elevation is at 5,308 feet above sea level. We are told that if the sea level rises like 5 feet most of the country will be destroyed. So here I am at 5,308 feet elevation level, we have all kinds of evidence of swampland, like the Everglades, in this area, at this elevation. Saltwater, by the way. About 1 1/2 hours drive from there, there are all kinds of dinosaur remains, I mean gobbs and gobbs of them. So we will have to have a lot of warming before we get the sea levels up to this elevations again. Then we have ideas presented that we are advised to not build our house on the sand, but rather on a rock. I can't help but think that this advice has it's rooted in actuality than in philosophy. My point here is that throughout the long existence of this earth,  one thing is constant and that is change. Nature or God, whichever, the result is the same, and that is constant change. Rather you accept this idea or not, plants really are a highly advanced life form. Plants have been here much longer than we, like animals, have been here. My point here is that the earth has been able to adjust and balance out any movement of natural elements to keep eath and it's functioning in functioning order. It has done this for a long, longggggggggg time.  Then we as people think the earth's continued existence depends on our decisions. I say, yeah right. I am amazed at how we are always discovering how the earth appears to have anticipated events that would happen, like this CO2 thing that we are all freaked out about, and has a simple, naturally occurring solution to take care of it, keep everything in balance and functioning as it needs to be to ensure an environment for life to continue on. So as long as we allow plants to grow, this CO2 thing will contribute to a higher quality of life. 

Essential Oil Connection;

We need to include this section in here as well. So with this, we will be introducing a new program, well I should say, a new approach to which essential oils to consider using based on the end goal. This approach will explain why you would select an oil based on the CAM, C3 and C4 Pathways. With each pathway, you will end up with different results. For example, if you are looking at ways to ramp up your nutritional process, you would select and oil from the C3 pathway.  From the group selection, you would then move on to what particular area of nutrition you are targeting, would help with the selection of which oil would likely contribute to a positive outcome. We will learn why a physically sick person might look first to an oil from the CAM Pathway.  Then why an emotionally sick person might first look to an oil from the C4 Pathway.  This approach will also help you to learn which types of foods that you might select to best help you with a more healthy approach to the life you desire. 

Along with this approach, you will come to a better understanding of the whole quality issue with essential oils. You won't have to listen to some dim whit farting in the wind telling you how their oils are purer than pure can ever be. You will be given the tools to help you to make that determination all by yourself. You will have a more clear understanding of what a quality essential oil really is and by the same token what a lesser quality essential oil is all about and why it is of lesser quality. You will also learn why certain plants produce oils in various locations throughout the world.  One of the cool things that you will learn, at least I think it is cool, is photosynthesis. This has got to be one of the most fantastic miracles in existence. So a lot of exciting, and I mean exciting stuff coming down in the near future. I only hope that some of you will get it. Most people won't because it is so simple. But we can always have hope, right?

Summary;

Well, it is time to wrap this discussion up. Climate Change/Global Warming?? Thank God we have it if you believe it is a real thing. If you don't believe it is a real thing, then you might rethink it, because we really need it to improve the quality of our life. I have given you a small insight as to why we need it. It can only mean one thing and that thing is a good thing. More oxygen, more plants, a higher quality of life. Those are good right? Our only real challenge is how to deal with it, how to use it for a higher quality of life. I know you are thinking that I am off my rocker by now, but hang in there, you will see the correctness of this line of thinking when you start actually understanding what really, actually happens in this whole deal. I said that I would list plants within each category of these pathways. I will have to do that on a separate listing, as it would make this long discussion unbearably much longer. Plus, I want to make the list more inclusive than just a generalized listing. I would like ot name spoecific plants. So that list will come later. 

In closing, thank you for your interest and for your time. I appreciate associating with all of you. If you have sincere questions, let's talk. If you are a heckler, go heckle in a mirror. Until next time, take care.  

Kent King