Flexi Says: Carbon is the most important element to life. Without this element, life as we know it would not exist. Carbon is the central element in compounds necessary for life-organic compounds. These compounds include carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Carbon enters the biosphere as carbon dioxide, which is taken up by plants and other autotrophs that use the carbon atoms to build glucose molecules in the process of photosynthesis or chemosynthesis.