The importance of plants in everyday life

“The planting of a tree…, is a gift which you can make to posterity at almost no cost and with almost no trouble, and if the tree takes root it will far outlive the visible effect of any of your other actions, good or evil.” This quote by George Orwell divulges into the idea of plants having an immense value by merely discussing how the action of planting a tree can make a prosperous change, despite how simple the action may seem. Plants are critical and essential to all aspects of life, they merit countless benefits that allow for the existence of all living things on planet Earth. They benefit the economy, humans and plants lay the foundation for a prosperous ecosystem only showcasing their utmost importance.  

Humans rely on the several processes carried out by plants undoubtedly due to the fact that they are key to human survival. To begin, it is a known fact that humans need an energy source known as food to survive. However, all foods humans consume are based from plants, whether it be vegetables, pasta or poultry. Since vegetables and fruit are taken directly from a plant, while items such as pasta are made of plant-based materials such as the flour used, which is made from wheat, and animals in the meat industry consume plants to stay healthy as well. Without plants, there would be no food for all varieties of biotics to manducate as scientists are far from the mass production and distribution of artificially fabricated food.

Moreover, plants also provide another necessity of life in the form of oxygen. Plants being autotrophic, synthesize their own food in a process known as photosynthesis, absorbing sunlight, water and carbon dioxide in the air to create glucose, a form of sugar that is used as energy by the plant. The by-product of this process is oxygen, which is emitted into the air to be inhaled by humans, keeping their bodies well and functioning. Besides plants, there is no other species or phenomenon on earth that is capable of producing oxygen, and without them, the earth would be depleted of oxygen and full of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, plants positively contribute to human efforts against climate change, an issue that endangers the very existence of humans. Global warming can mostly be attributed to the anthropogenic greenhouse effect, releasing massive amounts

of greenhouse gases that trap heat, causing the average temperature of the earth to increase periodically. Plants arguably play a bigger role than humans in stopping this issue, by absorbing carbon dioxide and emitting oxygen in exchange. Of the 50% of carbon dioxide that stays in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, 25% is absorbed by plants. This directly reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the air and the heating of the earth. Thus, humans profoundly benefit from several of the processes that plants carry out, and are the sole reason why humans even exist today.

Not only do plants facilitate life for humans, but they do so for all biotics, which proves to be essential for human survival as well. They are the most fundamental, yet necessary component of the food chain. Since plants are autotrophic, they sustain themselves using only the natural resources of the earth including water, sunlight and carbon dioxide. However, the majority of biological creatures, namely animals, cannot replicate this self-sustaining process. Hence, increasing the need for them to find energy by consuming other biotics below them in the food chain. Plants are at the complete bottom of this food chain, which means no other being in the food chain could survive without these producers. Likewise, along with providing the basis of the food chain for animals, plants also offer habitats and ecosystems. An astronomical 80% of the world’s animals live in forests (WWF, 2020). Be that as it may, this statistic only accounts for one type of plant, which are trees, therefore suggesting that there is a considerably larger percentage of animals living in the other 391,000 species of plants.

Furthermore, plants are crucial in creating and preserving soil; plants act as the primary food source for the soil ecosystem while they are living and dead. Throughout their lifespan, plants constantly discharge sugars, amino acids and other compounds into the soil. Plants also protect the soil from the elements to ensure constant, favourable temperatures and adequate retention of water. When the plant dies, it’s broken down by various types of saprotrophs and the remains are used as fertilizer for the soil to improve its quality.  These remains of the plant go on to form a major part of the soil, having a permanent impact on soil health from the moment they sprout. Consequently showing the vital role plants have to all aspects of nature.

Finally, the availability and quality of plants can single-handedly dictate the prosperity of an economy. Plants can be seen as the foundation of many merchandise-based industries, providing raw materials to create consumer products. A plethora of products are derived from plant material such as essential oils, natural dyes, soaps, shampoos, perfumes, paint, varnish, rubber, latex, lubricants, plastics, inks, clothing and wood. Plants can also be expended as renewable fuels in the form of firewood, peat and other biofuels. Fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas are obtained from the residue of aquatic organisms including phytoplankton in geological time. These examples are merely rudimentary, as for instance, wood can be used as construction material, paper and cardboard. Another industry that sub exists upon plants for profit is the tourism sector. Botanical tourism is one of the more undervalued sectors of tourism, however, it continues to thrive. Over 25 million people travel annually in North America to see gardens, and the global market of garden visitors exceeds 250 million (North American Garden Tourism Conference, 2019). This impact is not solely limited to botanical tourism, as the majority of tourist attractions contain plants to boost their revenue, whether that may be in the form of a garden, animal enclosure or decorative pieces.

Lastly, plants are a key component in the development and production of medicine. Many medicines are composed of plants, either through herbalism by using traditional medicines, or the chemical substances purified from plants. Modern medicines such as aspirin, taxol, morphine, quinine, reserpine, and colchicine are all procured from plants. While some examples of plants used in herbalism include ginkgo, echinacea, feverfew, and Saint John\’s wort. Regardless of the type of medicine production, plants take credit for saving millions of lives annually because of their existence.To summarize, plants are a crucial component of development in humans, nature and the economy. They have provided humans with basic necessities of life along with solutions to the human’s history of exploitation and the problems we continue to create. Plants have proven to be the heart of all ecosystems by being an entity that allows for other living species to utilize as a habitat, food source and a facilitator of soil health and longevity. Lastly, plants are the underlying basis of many industries creating billions of dollars in revenue. This goes to show that humans unconditionally depend upon plants on a day to day basis.