Plants and animals require each other for survival. Animals acquire food and oxygen from plants whereas plants obtain minerals and carbon dioxide from animals (Leveque, 2003). Oxygen is necessary for respiration and is needed by both plants and animals. Photosynthesis is the process through which plants are able to manufacture food (Beckette, 1986). Photosynthesis is a complex process through which plants use light from the sun, carbon dioxide and water to manufacture food. The process of photosynthesis is important because through it plants are able to make food which is also needed by animals for survival. The process of photosynthesis results in the production of oxygen which is needed for respiration. Respiration is the process through which food is broken down in order to generate energy needed by the cells (Beckette, 1986). Respiration results in the production of carbon dioxide which is in then utilized by plants in the process of photosynthesis. This is an endless cycle which enables plants and animals survive on the planet earth.
The Biosphere 2 experiment
In 1987 scientists developed an experiment which was known as the Biosphere 2 experiment (Zabel, 1999). This experiment was located in Arizona desert and involved the construction of a 200 000 m3 greenhouse which occupied 1.28 hectares of land and was designed to last for 100 years. The experiment was initiated to help man understand the different complexities regarding how the biosphere operates. As soon as the experiment was begun it was met with heavy criticism from fellow scientists who thought that the experiment was not set appropriately. 4000 animal and plant species were set up in the facility and were expected to survive through interdependence (Leveque, 2003). Interestingly the levels of carbon dioxide in the facility increased to 2000 parts per million which is higher than the earth’s oxygen concentration of 350 parts per million (Broad, 1991). It was reported that the facility also employed carbon dioxide removal mechanisms at the initial stages. There were also reports that food had been smuggled into the facility. All these factors affected the integrity of the experiment. Levels of carbon dioxide above 10 000 parts per million can be lethal to human beings (Broad, 1991). There were also reports that the levels of oxygen in the facility dropped down to 14% after some period of time and more oxygen had to be injected to ensure that oxygen levels remain above 16% (Leveque, 2003). The experiment eventually came to an end in early 1995 after scientist dismissed the project as unviable.
Plants can survive in areas with virtually little oxygen even though they need oxygen to respire. Plants will survive in these regions because they have the capacity to produce oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. Animals on the other hand cannot survive without oxygen because they do need it for respiration and have no capacity to produce it (Zabel, 1999).
The importance of plants to man cannot be underestimated because man gets food and oxygen from them. The biosphere 2 experiment was considered a failure by many scientists; however it is important to note that four men and four women were able to live in the facility for two years without inputs from outside (Leveque, 2003). This shows that indeed our survival on earth is a result of a carefully balanced ecosystem that is able to recycle waste and other resources. Therefore the current generation of people should take caution and refrain from activities that lead to destruction of plants such as deforestation. Destruction of plants would lead to an imbalance of the ecosystem and this could have grave effects on human life.