You have just breathed in a nitrogen atom that passed through the right lung of the third iguanodon to the left of the tall cycad tree...The carbon cycle is the process in which carbon atoms are recycled over and over again on Earth. Carbon recycling takes place within Earth's biosphere and between living things and the nonliving environment. Since a continual supply of carbon is essential for all living organisms, the carbon cycle is the name given to the different processes that move carbon from one to another. The complete cycle is made up of "sources" that put carbon back into the environment and "sinks" that absorb and store carbon. Recycling carbon Earth's biosphere can be thought of as a sealed container into which nothing new is ever added except the energy from the Sun. Since new matter can never be created, it is essential that living things be able to reuse the existing matter again and again. For the world to work as it does, everything has to be constantly recycled. The carbon cycle is just one of several recycling processes, but it may be the most important process since carbon is known to be a basic building block of life. As the foundation atop which a huge family of chemical substances called organic substances are formed, carbon is the basis of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids—all of which form the basis of life on Earth. Since all living things contain the element carbon, it is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. The total ...

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