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Why are organic compounds important?

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Quick Answer

Organic compounds are important because they serve as the basis for all carbon-based life on Earth, create energy production in biological life, cause atmospheric depletion and release hydrocarbon energy. Organic compounds are comprised of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon atoms and are found in all life forms.

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Full Answer

A class of organic compounds called nucleotides form amino acids and DNA. Proteins, lipids and carbohydrates are necessary to sustain biological processes such as metabolism, respiration and blood circulation. Carbohydrates give life forms the energy needed to maintain cellular function. Lipids, or fats, store energy in the body for later use. Proteins create the structural parts of cells that build into tissues and organs that compose the entire body of an organism.

Organic compounds released into the atmosphere deplete ozone levels and cause smog. These compounds are byproducts of burning and manufacturing. In particular, volatile organic compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylene create acid rain that destroys plants. These substances react with ozone in the atmosphere to deplete the area of the troposphere that protects life from ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.

Ancient life forms buried beneath the surface of the Earth turned into hydrocarbons that form the basis of humanity's mechanical energy consumption. Crude oil is refined into gasoline, propane, diesel, kerosene and natural gas to provide fuel for automobiles and heating systems.

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