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Carbon Economy
Life could not exist without carbon.

Carbon provides the chemical ingredient for all plants and animals. Through photosynthesis, plants use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide from the air and convert water from the soil into plant tissues such as cellulose and into an energy source such as sugar.  Plants release oxygen into the air as the carbohydrates sugar and cellulose are synthesized. Animals eat the plants, breathe in oxygen from the air and oxidize the carbohydrates, or use them as fuel, which releases energy into the animal. .

Coal, oil, and natural gas are compounds of carbon and hydrogen derived from plant and animal sources deposited 300 million years during the Carboniferous Period, which gets its name from carbon. These deposits were once a part of the carbon cycle, a dynamic system of change that is still occurring. Other common natural substances rich in carbon are oil shale, limestone, coral, oyster shells, marble, dolomite, and magnesite. Limestone, coral, and oyster shells are largely calcium carbonate. Today, there are more than six and a half million compounds of the element carbon with more discoveries being synthesized every year. Hundreds of carbon compounds are commercially important but carbon forms diamond, graphite, charcoal, carbon black, and fullerene that are indispensable.  

Oil has been used for 5,000 to 6,000 years. The ancient Sumerians, Assyrians & Babylonians used crude oil and asphalt ("pitch") from large seeps at Tuttul (modern-day Hit) on the Euphrates River. The oil seeped from the under ground. The ancient Egyptians used liquid oil as a medicine for wounds, and lamps to provide light. The earliest known use of coal was in China. Coal from the Fu-shun mine in northeastern China may have been used to smelt copper as early as 3,000 years ago. The Chinese observed that coal was a stone that could burn.

Today, there are more than six and a half million compounds of the element carbon, which is many times more than those of any other element. More compounds are discoveries are being synthesized every year. Plastics have provided the performance characteristics that fulfill the consumer needs. Plastics are used in such a wide range of applications because they are uniquely capable of offering many different properties that offer consumer benefits unsurpassed by other materials. They are unique in that their properties may be customized for each individual end use application. 

The World's annual consumption of plastic materials is approximately hundred million metric tons or four percent of the World’s annual oil production for plastics. Since chemical companies use only four percent of the oil for making products, the other ninety-six percent could be used to make products to bring every country into the twenty first century rather than burning them and destroying Earth’s environment. In addition the billion of barrels of oil, there are billions of tons of coal and trillion of cubic feet of natural gas that could be used to make products.