Written in 7th grade
The most people would say that Carbon is a dangerous element because of the well known greenhouse gas, Carbon Dioxide, that affects the environment.
But I would say that Carbon is the element of life.
There is carbon in many things, almost in all things, eg. the air, food, sugar, coal, our bodies. No carbon, no life.
In clean forms we can find carbon in for example Graphite, Graphene. Diamond, the most precious stone, is also made from carbon. Diamond is a very stiff material and Graphene is a very flexible. It all depends on the structure of the atoms.
Carbon has number 6 in the periodic table. It has two shells. 2 electrons in the first shell and 4 electrons in the valence shell.
It can react with other atoms, with single or with double covalent bindings. For example in sugar. C6H7O(OH)5
Here in the sugar molecule we can see six carbon atoms, each with single bonds and in one place we see a double bond.
Coal, diamonds and graphite have been known for ages. But year 1803, John Dalton discovered that carbon was a chemical element. It was published in 1807.
Carbon is circulating between air, soil and living things. Normally the cycle is in balance. Plants are built up of a lot of carbon through the photosynthesis and at the same time producing oxygen. We eat the plants and some of the plants are stored as fossil fuels in the soil. Humans and other animals are using the oxygen and producing carbon dioxide, through the Krebs cycle.
Carbon isn’t dangerous. The dangerous thing is when we get an unbalance in the carbon cycle. This happens when we are using more carbon, from fossil fuels, than that are getting stored.
Then we get global warming.
But as I said, carbon isn’t only dangerous, carbon is an element of life.