Carbon- essential component of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates that makes up all organisms. The carbon cycle is a process in which carbon is cycled between the atmosphere, land, water, and organisms. It goes into a short term cycle when producers convert carbon dioxide into carbohydrates during photosynthesis. When consumers eat producers, they obtain the carbon from the carbs. As they break down the food during cellular respiration, some of the carbon is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Some carbon enters a long term cycle. Carbon can be converted to carbonates which make up the hard parts of bones or shells. They don't break down easily. Over millions of years carbonate deposits produce formations of limestone. Some carbs in organisms are converted into fats, oils, and other molecules that store energy. The carbon in these molecules can be released into the air or soil when an organism dies. When they're released they form coal deposits and natural gas called fossil fuel.