• Question: Why do we need plants?

    Asked by anon-349321 on 6 Mar 2023.
    • Photo: Sam Mugford

      Sam Mugford answered on 6 Mar 2023:

      Without plants there wouldn’t be any life on earth, at least not how we know it.

      All of the food we eat depends on plants. Mostly we eat plants, if you eat meat- the animals the meat comes from eat plants. the only things we eat that aren’t plant or animals are fungi (mushrooms)- and they eat (dead) plants. So without plants, there is no food.

      Perhaps the most important thing plants do is photosynthesis- turning sunlight and air into sugar. This is how plants grow and make the food we, and everything else eats. Plants are the solar panels that provide the energy that charges up all other life on earth.

    • Photo: Ian Adams

      Ian Adams answered on 7 Mar 2023:

      We need plants for many reasons. The first is that they release oxygen into the atmosphere, without this we wouldn’t be able to breath and would all quickly die. Secondly we also need food to eat and plants form much of what we eat or is required by everything else that we eat. Things like cows and sheep eat plants. I am struggling to think of any food that doesn’t start from plants somewhere in its food chain. A third reason is for our natural environment and our mental health. Plants shape the natural environment and imagine the countryside, gardens, parks and even streets without plants and trees: grey concrete and mud. Not very nice. The ability to go for a walk or spend some time in green spaces is good for everyone.

    • Photo: Laura Vickers

      Laura Vickers answered on 9 Mar 2023:

      We need plants for life. They provide the oxygen we breath, if we go back millions of years before photosynthesis the atmosphere was carbon dioxide heavy, and there was little oxygen. It is photosynthesis that changed that.

      Photosynthesis also turns light into chemical energy, a molecule called glucose. This is a energy molecule that we feed into livestock and we eat ourselves. Our whole food system relies on plants and photosynthesis. It is not just sugars like glucose. But plants also make the building blocks of proteins, amino acids. Plants make them from taking minerals out of the soil. In farming we apply fertiliser, a source of minerals for plant to take up. Plant build amino acids and we and livestock species eat those amino acids. Many of them we can’t make ourselves, we rely on plants to make them for us.

      Plants are also fuel whether locked in rock and turned into coal, or whether wood harvested from forests. But we rely on them to power, the power stations that give us electricity to our homes.

      Plants are also a way we can combat climate change, they lock up carbon dioxide and lots of work is on this area. They also provide shelter for many animals and soil stability using their roots to prevent soil erosion.

      In summary all life as we know it depends on plants.

    • Photo: Phil Howell

      Phil Howell answered on 13 Mar 2023:

      I had some friends who asked me that once. I was quite stressed before exams so I yelled “all flesh is grass”. It means that pretty much everything that lives either eats plants, or eats something that eats plants. Because plants turn sunlight, air and water into the building blocks of all food, plus oxygen (the part of air we need to stop us from suffocating), they pretty much ensure that everything else on earth can survive.