Claim: ‘Dangerous’ nitrogen pollution could be halved

Now Nitrogen, making up 78% of Earth’s atmosphere, and a requirement for many agricultural crops is given the label of “dangerous”. I’m guessing Oxygen and the “dangerous oxidation” it causes will be next.

First they came for the CFC’s, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a user of aerosol deodorant.

Then they came for the Carbon Dioxide, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a denier.

Then they came for the Nitrogen, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a farmer.

Then they came for the Oxygen–and there was no one left breathing to speak for me.

From the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) home of the Schellnhuber

Dangerous nitrogen pollution could be halved

Ambitious mitigation efforts, however, could decrease the pollution by 50 percent. The analysis is the very first to quantify this.

“Nitrogen is an irreplaceable nutrient and a true life-saver as it helps agriculture to feed a growing world population – but it is unfortunately also a dangerous pollutant,” says Benjamin Bodirsky, lead-author of the study. In the different forms it can take through chemical reactions, it massively contributes to respirable dust, leads to the formation of aggressive ground-level ozone, and destabilizes water ecosystems. Damages in Europe alone have been estimated at around 1-4 percent of economic output, worth billions of Euro. About half of these nitrogen pollution damages are from agriculture. This is why the scientists ran extensive computer simulations to explore the effects of different mitigation measures.

Both farmers and consumers would have to participate in mitigation

“It became clear that without mitigation the global situation may markedly deteriorate as the global food demand grows,” says Bodirsky, who is also affiliated to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, Colombia (CIAT). “A package of mitigation actions can reverse this trend, yet the risk remains that nitrogen pollution still exceeds safe environmental thresholds.”

Only combined mitigation efforts both in food production and consumption could substantially reduce the risks, the study shows. Currently, every second ton of nitrogen put on the fields is not taken up by the crops but blown away by the wind, washed out by rain or decomposed by microorganisms. To reduce losses and prevent pollution, farmers can more carefully target fertilizer application to plants’ needs, using soil measurements. Moreover, they should aim at efficiently recycling animal dung to fertilize the plants. “Mitigation costs are currently many times lower than damage costs,” says co-author Alexander Popp.

“For consumers in developed countries, halving food waste, meat consumption and related feed use would not only benefit their health and their wallet,” Popp adds. “Both changes would also increase the overall resource efficiency of food production and reduce pollution.”

“Health effects of nitrogen pollution more important than climate effects”

“The nitrogen cycle is interwoven with the climate system in various ways,” Hermann Lotze-Campen points out, co-author of the study and co-chair of PIK’s research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities. Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, on the one hand is one of the major greenhouse gases. On the other hand, nitrogen containing aerosols scatter light and thereby cool the climate. And as fertilizing nutrient, nitrogen enhances the growth of forests which binds CO2. “Currently the health effects of nitrogen pollution are clearly more important, because the different climate effects largely cancel out,” says Lotze-Campen. “But this may change – hence limiting nitrogen would have the double benefit of helping our health today and avoiding climate risks in the future.”

###

Article: Bodirsky, B.L., Popp, A., Lotze-Campen, H., Dietrich, J.P., Rolinski, S., Weindl, I., Schmitz, C., Müller, C., Bonsch, M., Humpenöder, F., Biewald, A., Stevanovic, M. (2014): Reactive nitrogen requirements to feed the world in 2050 and potentials to mitigate nitrogen pollution. Nature Communications [DOI:10.1038/ncomms4858]

Weblink to Nature Communications where the article will be published: http://www.nature.com/naturecommunications

About these ads

121 thoughts on “Claim: ‘Dangerous’ nitrogen pollution could be halved

  1. Man-made global warming, er climate change, er global weirding, er climate disruption is causing dangerous levels of the potent greenhouse gas dihydrogen monoxide to accumulate in our precious atmosphere!

  2. It is now clear that the real movers behind all this climate drivel are “the greys” who are planning to take over after we have run ourselves into extinction.

  3. Acknowledgements
    This research is funded by BMBF and launched by FONA under support code
    01LL0901A (GLUES) and 01LL0904B (INNOVATE). The research leading to these
    results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework
    Programme FP7/2007-2013 under grant agreement number 266992 (Global IQ), 226701
    (Carbo-eXtreme), 265104 (Volante), 243888 (FUME).

  4. with apologies to milodonharlani who mentioned it first. I am slow on the uptake today :)

  5. Why and how do crop yields per acre continue to climb? Corn is at record levels. Who claims that record yields are costing the GDP?

  6. RE: Only combined mitigation efforts both in food production and consumption could substantially reduce the risks, the study shows.

    I notice a repeating pattern of trying to control everyone. Hand over your freedom and we’ll make you safe.

  7. I am sure there will be a 12-step program developed soon for an organizaton called Alarmists Anonymous for Mad Scientists – AAMS for short. When will it end? When will IT enddd ….

  8. We must return the Earth to its natural state. Only when the Earth is as it was about 4 billion years ago, before it had an atmosphere, will it be safe.

  9. They’re talking about Amine (NH3-) Nitrate (NO3-) salts, not Nitrogen gas (N2).

    Since nitrogen fertilizers are a diverse set with only the Nitrogen part in common, it is reasonable to refer to them generally as Nitrogens.

    Obviously.

  10. Bob Diaz says:
    May 13, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    RE: Only combined mitigation efforts both in food production and consumption could substantially reduce the risks, the study shows.

    But don’t call ‘em Malthusians!

  11. So their fix is: eat less, become a vegetarian, make farming more difficult. Got it!

    (Remember that these are the same elites who think nothing of jetting off to Bali for a climate conference, where they dine, frolic, and consume adult beverages with no guilt…).

  12. vboring says: May 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm
    “Obviously.”

    Indeed so. When your doctor recommends more iron in your diet, he isn’t talking about nails.

  13. Happy Days lasted another seven years after Fonzie jumped the shark. The Greens, misunderstanding the concept, keep jumping more sharks thinking it will give them seven more years of relevance.

  14. Now lets get this right
    1 we have global warming but we need to limit Nitrogen because it is a cooling agent.???
    2 We need to eat less meat to reduce Nitrogen because its good for our health- not according to the latest dietary information.
    3 nitrogen enhances growing and binds CO2- so we should limit it.
    4 So in nature the good and bad effects cancel out.- but that may change, really!!!!
    To much laughing gas in the lab to be taken seriously.

  15. @Stark Dickflüssig

    “Time to ban lightning.”

    Note that these climate alarmists (aka left wing, progressive eco-fascists) are very fond of using the “b” word these days. Think they won’t attempt to use the power of government to fundamentally change our ways of life???

    Time to vote their political enablers out of office, then begin the process of defunding this junk science…

  16. Do some farmers over fertilize? Sure. Is there some run off of fertilizer into streams and rivers? Sure. Do farmers try to limit over fertilization and run off? You bet. At least those that have to pay for the fertilizer they apply. It isn’t cheap. And without fertilizer we would not be able to produce the amount of food required to feed the inhabitants of this planet. Of course, we could develop soylent green as a food source.

  17. Demonstrates exactly what is going wrong with ‘science’.

    As I suggested a long time ago here … We have entered the Macroscopic Era of science. We have too much information that we barely understand. We can, from space, measure temperature, global cloud cover or CO2 concentration over Beijing in real time. We can count the number of Ants entering and leaving the nest. What we don’t have is anything to compare it with.
    Were there more Ants in 1950? More Clouds?

    The ‘microscope’ was developed several hundred years before we understood ‘Bacteria’. I suspect that we may come to understand elements of the macroscopic world in less time. But not right now.

  18. What is dangerous is “progressives” and “environmentalists”. Everything they propose to do results in less food, fewer people, economic harm. Make them prove their claims very specifically. Limits are fine where limits are needed but sweeping global or national regulation is harmful. Have them prove the damage in a specific area, regulations can be proposed for that area, and if they were not effective, the regulation should be removed. These sweeping generalities are likely to kill people and this seems to make them quite happy. I believe they are misanthropes killing people “for their own good”.

  19. For any self-absorbed GHG band and equal Earth surface and adjacent air temperature, there is zero, 0, nix, zilch, nada, net IR flux from surface to atmosphere in that band.

    Because Climate Alchemists imagine incorrectly that the surface Irradiance is the same as a black body in a vacuum in radiative equilibrium with a sink at absolute zero, they imagine that such GHGs as CO2, H2O and N2O absorb vast IR energy then thermalise it, hence the ‘back radiation’ fairy tail.

    There is no such energy flow. It is the worst scientific cock-up in History. Papers such as this which assume this fantasy physics are worse than useless because there is (1) no experimental proof and (2) Nature has no right to publish such obvious scientific fiction. This is a circle jerk of a science.

  20. Dihydrogen monoxide? Pah, sounds harmless. Hydroxic acid is what you want. That’s the real deal, and oh boy, do we have loads! :)

  21. Why don’t they tell what it is about. Could it be because it worked with carbon pollution.
    In both cases it is in combination with oxygen, so the mitigation could be to remove the oxygen. It would also prevent carbondioxide to be produced. A simple and neat solution.

  22. Hydroxic acid isn’t a problem, Hydronium Hydroxide on the other hand is really hazardous!

  23. “Only combined mitigation efforts both in food production and consumption could substantially reduce the risks, the study shows.”

    The stupid, it burns. Not as much as the desperate plea that we submit to the Science Overlords but it still burns.

    Here is an easy BS detector test. Any claim that social behavior changes can change the physics is BS.

  24. They are simply testing the waters for a successor to CO2.
    To my knowledge PIK is funded by the german government…they need something new to scare the electorate.

  25. They’re talking about Amine (NH3-) Nitrate (NO3-) salts, not Nitrogen gas (N2).

    Since nitrogen fertilizers are a diverse set with only the Nitrogen part in common, it is reasonable to refer to them generally as Nitrogens.

    Obviously.

    Then perhaps someone can explain to me why they did not say that?

  26. Yes, dihydrogen monoxide is one of the most dangerous chemical compounds, and is created by burning fossil fuels.

    Elevated levels of dihydrogen monoxide is one of the primary causes of damaging floods. It also is a contributing factor to hurricanes, tornado formation, ice storms, snow storms, etc.

    Inhalation of high concentrations of dihydrogen monoxide is a leading cause of death in children, and is a carrier for the spread of many diseases. Write your liberal congressman and demand that congress ban this dangerous substance.

    http://dhmo.org/facts.html#DANGERS

  27. Do you suppose it might help to stop fertilizing marginal lands which are best suited for grazing, in order to raise corn for ethanol production?

  28. This is not a study of any kind. It is a proposal to socialist grant vampires around the world, saying “How about Nitrogen. The Carbon scam may be petering out, Ocean Acidification isn’t going anywhere, but Nitrogen can make the climate go hot or cold, nobody knows much about it so we can just make it up as we go, and we could starve millions of those evil humans to boot.”

  29. From the abstract:

    “Here we show by model simulations, that under baseline conditions, Nr pollution in 2050 can be expected to rise to 102–156% of the 2010 value. “

    They must be new to the game. Not going to scare many people with numbers like those. Gonna need a scarier model.

  30. “Since nitrogen fertilizers are a diverse set with only the Nitrogen part in common, it is reasonable to refer to them generally as Nitrogens.

    Obviously.”

    Carbonaceous compounds are a diverse set with only the carbon part in common so it is reasonable to refer to e. g. Carbon dioxide (CO2), Benzene (C6H6), Sugar (C6H12O6) and Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) as Carbons

    No?

  31. I have no problem with this research. Nutrient-laden runoff degrades surface water, we’ve known this for a hundred years. This is why Lake Erie used to be biologically dead. Since the Clean Water Act, point sources of nitrogen, phosphorus and other pollutants have been cleaned up substantially, and our waterways reflect this. I’m a Republican and support legislation to clean up our waterways.

    Nitrogen pollution isn’t dangerous per se, but it leads to noxious conditions. Also, spreading manure onto fields opens up all sorts of other problems including pathogenic bacteria, odors etc.

    Sorry, Anthony, this article is a “red herring” and shouldn’t be part of the climate discussion. Certain nitrogen compounds are implicated in trapping infrared radiation, but this article doesn’t discuss that. In fact, applying manure onto farmfields only makes it worse.

  32. Luther Bl’t says:
    May 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Yes, hydroxic acid is even scarier than dihydrogen monoxide! We’re all going to dissolve, like the Wicked Witch. We’re melting!

    [Hydro-hydroxic acid actually. Mod]

  33. Nitrogen “pollution” is also plant food, says James Hansen in his last publication with NASA:

    “We suggest that the surge of fossil fuel use, mainly coal, since 2000 is a basic cause of the large increase of carbon uptake by the combined terrestrial and ocean carbon sinks. One mechanism by which fossil fuel emissions increase carbon uptake is by fertilizing the biosphere via provision of nutrients essential for tissue building, especially nitrogen, which plays a critical role in controlling net primary productivity and is limited in many ecosystems and field studies confirm a major role of nitrogen deposition, working in concert with CO2 fertilization, in causing a large increase in net primary productivity of temperate and boreal forests.”

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/1/011006

  34. Referring to nitrogen compounds as “nitrogen” is akin to referring CO2 as “carbon pollution”. It is incorrect & misleading, but it serves the alarmists well. This article is yet another example of the abuse of science by alarmists.

  35. “This is why the scientists ran extensive computer simulations to explore the effects of different mitigation measures…” When you have a answer/method that works with anything you run with it! I bet they are already counting the incoming grants.

  36. Hmm. I think the article needs re-focussing. The issue isn’t nitrogen on fields, but nitrates that add nitrogen to the soil. Because of run off and the subsequent concentration of fertiliser in the sea, there are many cases of algae bloom and oxygen depleted areas in the sea. Gulf of Mexico is one area of many suffering.
    So agricultural run off is the important issue I see. To call it too much nitrogen is getting things wrong, after all they are not spreading Nitrogen on the fields: its a gas after all!
    I do however support “only fertilise what’s needed”. Same amount of food will be grown and our rivers and seas will benefit greatly.
    Maybe the farming research places have discovered that adding an “Oh no, the climate” to a research paper title makes large doses of grant money available?!

  37. Let’s just ban gas, any gas. Then we can all just drift off quietly to sleep and not have to listen to any more of this

  38. Nitrogen comprises 75 wt. % of the atmosphere and CO2 only about 460 ppm. One would think an increase in N would dilute down the concentration of CO2 and the claimed associated greenhouse effect. Since plants produce oxygen from CO2 we should expect the oxygen concentration to increase with recent planetary greening. All said, we should be seeing a decrease in the concentration of trace gases such as argon, neon, krypton, xenon, etc.

    Seems that the solution to pollution IS dilution.

  39. I thought this was a serious study until I saw:

    From the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) home of the Schellnhuber

    Then I relaxed knowing this was more alarmist BS from PIK, the people in bed with Munich-RE insurance company. The first link

    Who is Hans Joachim Schellnhuber?
    Twenty years on he continues to lead that organization. It now employs 340 people and received funding in 2011 from:

    • Germany’s national government
    • the German state of Brandenburg
    • the European Regional Development Fund
    • unnamed “external sources”

    …….In 2003, he authored an article for the UK Guardian that characterized the use of fossil fuels as “a lifestyle of mass destruction.” He suggested that wealthy Westerners should feel guilty “for eco-crimes that sink distant island states” via an “SUV culture out of control.” In his view, the least we should do is establish “a UN supervised adaptation fund worth several trillion dollars.”…….

    =============================

    New Film Shows Hans Schellnhuber Claiming “Himalayan 2035 Glacier Melt Was “Very Easy To Calculate”
    He could not see the fail for the trees. He later said it was obvious that the 2035 date was wrong.

  40. I neglected to mention that excess nitrate fertilizers can contaminate groundwater, leading to health problems in infants (methemoglobinemia):

    http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxfaqs/tfacts204.pdf

    Therefore, the guy touches on something that has legitimacy. However, [using] the phrase “dangerous nitrogen pollution” is just stupid. Nitrogen gas is largely inert, but some compounds containing nitrogen, such as cyanide, will kill you very quickly. “Dangerous” depends upon the form.

  41. While I am normally on board with bashing the growing reach of government regulation, this is justified. Nitrogen may indeed be 78% of the atmosphere, but that’s where it belongs, and not in the oceans. In the atmosphere it exists as chemically stable. In the oceans, it leads to algeal blooms which leads to ecosystem collapse from the bottom up. The good news is all of these issues appear and can be managed on a local scale. Whereas for the CO2 issue, it is a global issue. Nitrogen is indeed harmless, when it stays where it is supposed to. But move it into the oceans and you have legitimate issues.

  42. CRS, DrPH says:
    May 13, 2014 at 1:14 pm
    “Sorry, Anthony, this article is a “red herring” and shouldn’t be part of the climate discussion. ”

    It is, because it is by the PIK, which has the only purpose of pondering the effects of climate change. They don’t do ANYTHING without connecting it to Earth’s precious vulnerable climate. They were founded for this reason. PIK means Potsdam Institut fuer Klimafolgenforschung; literally: Potsdam Institute for climate consequences research; sorry, that’s really the name even if it’s rather nonsensical. We had a serious brain drain after Operation Paperclip.

    ““The nitrogen cycle is interwoven with the climate system in various ways,” Hermann Lotze-Campen points out, co-author of the study and co-chair of PIK’s research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities. ”

    See?

  43. @CRS, DrPH thankfully our hosts blog isn’t juat about the climate discussion. It;s about life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology and recent news. Also just about anything else that piques our host’s interest.
    I for one am very thankful about that as it produces some of the liveliest discussion on the web today. Even if the likes of Mosher believes we are all no better than third rate thinkers.

    The article is what it is, and as it is it will be misleading to the layman. Which is who it will be intended to scare if it makes mainstream media. I’m still astounded by the number of people who will argue that carbon dioxide is a pollutant. That’s the fault of the media and this kind of thing needs to be headed off. Let’s keep them honest.

  44. Who claims that record yields are costing the GDP?

    Bob Diaz says:
    May 13, 2014 at 12:16 pm
    RE: Only combined mitigation efforts both in food production and consumption could substantially reduce the risks, the study shows
    ================================
    So there you have it; just stop eating. Problem solved.

    And to think; Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Edison, Fermi, Curie, Tesla and Einstein NEVER saw a computer model. How did they manage?

  45. These people will never stop inventing new dangers to life on Earth until we stop falling for it by giving them more money.

  46. In Europe, we farmers have limits on the number of nitrogen and phosphorous units/acre that we can spread. We have limits on livestock stocking rates/acre and we have strict calendar date controls on the spreading of organic and inorganic fertiliser. Long before this legislation was enforced every analysis of river pollution showed the following, upstream of urban centres water is slightly polluted, downstream of urban centres water is polluted/seriously polluted. This type of “science” further undermines the credibility of conventional agriculture. It is politically acceptable because it attacks a minority grouping but does not to tackle a more obvious problem involving significant votes. Easy pickings then for the green agenda.

  47. Yeah, using the term “Nitrogen Pollution” as a short-hand for “Pollution of Nitrogen compounds” is annoying, but other than that, I really don’t see why anyone has a problem with this article. Many Nitrogen Compounds are really harmful to the environment, to animal life, and to human life, so it is important to monitor and control such pollution. If you don’t believe me, visit Los Angeles in 1960 or Beijing today!

    Fortunately, efforts to clean up NOx pollution from automobiles have been quite successful (visit modern day L.A. or any other major city in the U.S. or Europe). Furthermore, ground water contamination by run-off of nitrogen-based fertilizers is a major problem in many parts of the world and it is getting worse. Again, these are technological problems, with fairly straightforward solutions. Do we need to eliminate such fertilizers? No, but we do need to monitor their use and when they become a problem, take steps to remedy them, either by limiting the source or treating the run-off water appropriately.

    Unlike, global warming, these are real, observable problems (NOx causes smog, particulates, and Ozone build-up, all of which are proven to be harmful to humans. Water contamination by fertilizers promotes growth of algaes and other organisms, which can cause sickness in humans, as well as reduce the oxygen content killing fish or aquatic animals.) In many cases, they also have straightforward, albeit sometimes costly, solutions. However, in most cases, the costs are justifiable and the solutions demonstrable (compare smog levels in L.A. vs. Beijing).

  48. There are some relevant issues here that this research, for some reason does not address properly. Excessive use of nitrogen by farmers, does in fact cause some serious problems.

    The “Dead Zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is an example. Runoff from nitrogen that was applied to tens of millions of acres of land intended for corn, makes its way to the northern Gulf of Mexico every Spring. The nitrogen also fertilizes algae and bacteria which ends up creating as much as 6,000 sq miles of oxygen depleted water. Fish and other life dependent on oxygen either die or move outside the zone.

    http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2013-06-14/gulf-of-mexico-s-extinction-by-ethanol

    There are ways to lessen the amounts/concentration of the nutrient rich runoff from productive farms upstream. Fertilizing practices can be made more effective. However, by a wide margin, the best way to manage this problem is to stop the silly practice of growing 40% of our corn crop to make ethanol. Growing corn to make fuel has numerous negative consequences and this is just another item that adds to the list. Why this study did not target ethanol is baffling.

    One that should be off the “table” is the suggestion that we eat 50% less meat. Suggesting that this will benefit wallets but failing to mention ethanol, which causes the price for all crops to go up substantially is absurd.
    Freeing up tens of millions of acres to grow food vs fuel, would not only cause ALL crop prices to drop(sorry crop farmers) a great deal but feed costs would also fall, resulting in the price we pay for meat, eggs and other food products to drop.

    It’s a win-win-win as, this would be the most effective way to manage the nitrogen fertilizer, cause lower prices and we can still dine on high quality, nutritious meat products.

  49. @zootcadillac says:
    May 13, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks, I agree, but only to a point. Objecting about anything pertaining to government regulations or pollution just reduces the intellectual discourse we usually have. I’m glad we have regulations to protect our food & water supply, I just think that the GHG stuff is an overreach based on the evidence that is being presented. Bob Tilsdale nails it.

    Do WUWT readers object to drinking water chlorination? Improved fishing waters? Reduced airborne toxics? I really don’t think so. These have improved life expectancy a great deal.

    Pollution by nitrogenous compounds is a real phenomenon and could easily be reduced by at least half, and the article mentions some important steps. At University of Illinois (my affiliate), we promoted “no till” agriculture early on in order to reduce topsoil erosion and conservation of nutrients. http://saltfork.nres.illinois.edu/pdfs/Monitoring%20Handout.pdf

    Ronald Reagan once said “Of COURSE I’m for conservation! I’m a conservative!” Amen to that!

  50. Whilst I agree that the idea of atmospheric nitrogen being dangerous is quite simply preposterous. I have witnessed with my own eyes the destruction of stream and river ecosystems by ‘nitrate’ run off.
    The really interesting thing however is that much of the run off was due to excessive use of nitrogen fertilisers and the mis-timing of their application.
    A more intelligent approach to their use will reduced damage to water courses AND save farms money….which can’t be a bad thing.

  51. Nitrogen is a component of explosives and therefore is responsible for violence. It must be BANNED.

    Oxygen is a component of carbon dioxide and obviously must be BANNED.

    Water vapor contains hydrogen, which is a dangerous explosive, and therefore must be BANNED.

    Argon is a “noble gas”. Nobility is elitist and cannot be tolerated. Argon must be BANNED.

    Carbon dioxide – what need I say? It must be BANNED.

    Once these dangerous and bigoted substances are BANNED, women, gheys and people of color can lead peaceful lives of tolerance and inclusiveness.

  52. (A) The irony of how nitrogen output from coal is actually causing more carbon dioxide uptake by forests is the biggest benefit imaginable in their doomsday scenario outlook, vastly outweighing actual pollution damage.

    (B) The green party candidate for NYC mayor was actually quoted on our local West Side Rag online newspaper as calling not just for the banning of plastic bags but plastic itself:

    “One serious event at the Indian Point plant just 25 miles up the river would be a disaster for NYC and the entire nation. We must also practice conservation and ban environmentally toxic products such as plastics. I mentioned the importance of the Green Party because the Democratic and Republican Parties are controlled by the very corporations that are polluting our environment.”

    http://www.westsiderag.com/2013/09/05/decision-2013-we-grilled-the-city-council-candidates-on-the-hot-issues

  53. One must ask whether the mollusks putting out this twaddle are aware that every one of them exhales about a pound and a half of carbon dioxide, and about 20 times that much nitrogen, every day? Just think of the great service they could do by not breathing. /sarc, but not too much

  54. In the U.S. alone, about nine people per day die from excess dihydrogen monoixide exposure, a disproportionate percentage of them children under the age of five.

  55. OH no! The atmosphere … it contains Atoms, Molecules and Chemicals. Gasp! I cannot breath. We’re all going to die!

  56. “This is why the scientists ran extensive computer simulations to explore the effects of different mitigation measures.”

    Sheesh!

  57. Good news! The UN have already responded by setting up an agency to deal with this. It is rumored to be called the “Inter-Governmental Nitrous Oxide Reduction And Mitigation Unhinged Splurge”, or IGNORAMUS for short.

  58. 3×2 says:
    May 13, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    You have illustrated a point that I have suspected about modern science for many years. Paraphrased roughly, it is not seeing the forest for the trees. Science has become so concerned with the microscopic elements of things, reducing everything down to almost beyond a microscopic level, that they fail to truly understand the large-scale, human-scale implications of what they see (or they infer far too greatly from what they find at the microscopic level). That has led science to draw far larger (and, I think, far more questionable) conclusions from what seems to me to be relatively minor phenomena. The conclusions thus drawn appear to lack any kind of sense compared to what we see around us every day.

    Yes, it is true that some farmers may fertilize too much. But plants drawing nitrogen from the atmosphere alone takes more time, and does not improve crop yields in the same way that adding nitrogen-based fertilizers can. Yet, we have to balance the need for higher yields with prudent use of these fertilizers. I only wish the authors had a more specific data as evidence to support their conclusions.

  59. Do these “people” honestly expect a perfectly clean, sanitized, non-dangerous universe? One reason organisms evolve and grow stronger is due to adversity, not from perfect, non-threatening environments. Humans have already probably ceased to effectively evolve, because we care for and nurture those who wouldn’t survive long enough to procreate under survival conditions, as we should.

    The universe is a dangerous place, always has been, always will be. If they want to get rid of all the dangers, then build a gigantic, underground clean room to live in, and leave the rest of us alone.

  60. Nick Stokes says:
    May 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm
    “Indeed so. When your doctor recommends more iron in your diet, he isn’t talking about nails.”

    Actually he may. Adding iron nails to you broth while cooking it, cooking with iron pots and pans will add iron to the food you eat which will be absorbed by you. Though someone as smart as you would have known that.

  61. The average farmer is way ahead of these guys and has been putting into practice everything they mentioned plus a whole lot more. Read the Michigan GAAMP standards about manure handling and see the regulations they follow. Lots of livestock and dairy operations grow their own feed and use the manure. Many sell surplus manure to crop farmers or compost,sanitize,and bag it for garden centers etc. The average farmer knows Nitrogen far better than these pretenders.

  62. “Though it didn’t involve gene cloning, the green revolution still wasn’t “green” in the modern sense.

    High yields demanded artificial fertilizer, chemical pesticides and new soil technology. But where would all the extra food have come from without these inputs? Organic farming has fed people for centuries but it hasn’t the capacity to feed the world’s burgeoning population.

    If all our organic waste were somehow diverted into spreading over our fields, it wouldn’t be sufficient to fertilize half our current world cereal crop.

    Bullsh*t may be unlimited in the GM debate, but on the ground, supplies are much more limited.” Johnjoe McFadden

  63. “Though it didn’t involve gene cloning, the green revolution still wasn’t “green” in the modern sense.

    High yields demanded artificial fertilizer, chemical pesticides and new soil technology. But where would all the extra food have come from without these inputs? Organic farming has fed people for centuries but it hasn’t the capacity to feed the world’s burgeoning population.

    If all our organic waste were somehow diverted into spreading over our fields, it wouldn’t be sufficient to fertilize half our current world cereal crop.

    Bullsh*t may be unlimited in the GM debate, but on the ground, supplies are much more limited.” Johnjoe McFadden

  64. Someone coined the phrase, “Mankind in Amnesia.” That seems to fit this generation that has no clue what it’s been like trying to get bread from the earth for the last few thousand years, without fertilzers, pesticides and herbicides.

    Some aphids have 10 to 15 generations in a growing season. Cucumber beetles may produce up to seven generations in one year. In moist conditions, a single fungus bearing plant can infect thousands more in just a few days.

    In fact for every beneficial plant there are hundreds of pathogens and pests waiting in the wings to destroy them. These are the true pollutants. Wiping out potatoes, rice, tomatoes, apples and all of our wonderful food crops through reintroducing all of these deadly foes is an act of mass murder and organic farmers need to be held responsible for the diseases they spread.

    Again, smuts, rust, scab and mildew must be legally defined as pollutants in this modern world of anti-rationalists. Not only that, using science to lie to people about their food, cattle, water, fire and transportation is also a toxic problem, inducing harmful fear, uncertainty and doubt into children’s minds in order to bolster the organic industry – and foreign interests determined to destroy our ability to feed ourselves. That is exceedingly toxic waste and hippies are a source of this black toxin which is destroying people’s enjoyment and digestion, and their ability to purchase affordable, nutritious food in all seasons.

    I don’t mind a bit having health food stores and organic food sections where rich hippies pay twice as much for half as much to “save the planet.”

    But beyond these pro-biofuel, high-energy-price, and anti-pesticide green policies there are potato and rice famines.

  65. It is true that nitrogen fertilizers are possibly a choking hazard for some segments of the population. All Progressives scientisits choke on any and all agricultural advances, gagging and complaining, and sulking because their Malthusian fantasy was spoiled by Norman Borlaug, and genetic modification of crops, along with synthetic fertilizers, and especially above all, mass manufactured affordable fossil fuel powered tractors.

  66. Did anyone know that the water they wash coal in, is converted into fertilizers. Very expensive.

  67. Now let’s let the gullible and the credulous head off to their sustainable plantations together for a dose of rationality and experience.

    Meanwhile, in the innovative, free US, let’s start thinking about developing some Dwarf Arctic Cacao Trees ™ which mama can grow in her own back yard. And some Dahlias that bloom all year, she would like that.

  68. While they grope around for something to take over when the CO2 scare fails, they are (most kindly) shooting themselves in the foot. They are adding their own nails to their coffin now. This sort of claim will knock a few more blinkers from the eyes of the general public – as in, “What, something ELSE?”

    So far there have been “dangerous levels” of too many things, all natural to Earth’s environment and/or to the food chain. We’re being lied to all over the place, not just in climate matters but dietary and medical matters, too, and it’s all done the same way – 30 years or more of alarmist papers based on fudged data and faulty science, picked up and promoted by governments.

    Am I the only one to think this is all connected? What better way to kill off 90% of the population than to have people poison themselves with things they are assured are healthy. Even in the climate arena, Greens are pushing for all people to become vegetarian to “save the planet”. It is all planned – these videos are worth watching:

    http://notrickszone.com/2014/05/10/the-greatest-nutritional-and-pharmaceutical-swindle-of-all-time-high-grain-low-fat-diets-are-killing-us-by-the-millions/

    I don’t think the nitrogen scare will take hold. They tried with water a little while back when they objected to hydrogen cars as a solution to fuel usage. They’ve waved around methane plenty of times, too. They seem to be trying different ideas to see which will take root in the public imagination – then they’ll fire up the same scare in different clothing.

  69. “Now Nitrogen, making up 78% of Earth’s atmosphere, and a requirement for many agricultural crops is given the label of “dangerous”. I’m guessing Oxygen and the “dangerous oxidation” it causes will be next.

    First they came for the CFC’s, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a user of aerosol deodorant.

    Then they came for the Carbon Dioxide, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a denier.

    Then they came for the Nitrogen, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a farmer.

    Then they came for the Oxygen–and there was no one left breathing to speak for me.”

    Maybe you should stick to things you know something about. Exactly what are the problems with their work that justify such a statement? The paper explains clearly exactly what they are on about, and that response was the best you could do?

  70. “Indeed so. When your doctor recommends more iron in your diet, he isn’t talking about nails.”

    Damn, I never knew that doctors were part of the conspiracy too!

  71. Also, I come from a fishing family. This is a real problem with real consequences for the productivity of farms, and the health of the marine environment which has consequences for our productivity. Better management of the nitrogen issue has improved the health of out waterways, and saved the farmers money.

    Now, such restrictions on the use of such fertilizers don’t always end up with the farmers being better off, but it isn’t a one sided equation. It isn’t ok to screw up the marine environment and the industries that rely on it to keep a marginal farm going.

  72. “Did anyone know that the water they wash coal in, is converted into fertilizers. Very expensive.”

    Yes, but there are downsides to this too. Uptake of toxic minerals in plants can be a problem. Do you have any information about the current state of affairs with research on this? “No such thing as a free lunch” seems to very much apply to fertilizers.

  73. “Tom in Florida says:

    May 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Actually he may. Adding iron nails to you broth while cooking it, cooking with iron pots and pans will add iron to the food you eat which will be absorbed by you.”

    This is interesting. Given most people have enough iron in their bodies to make 1 nail, I have enough to make a bag full thanks to haemochromatosis. No more iron pots for me!

  74. Anthony: I do not see the apparent confusion you detect between N2 and other nitrogen compounds… It is not, at least, in the referenced article, where it talks about “reactive nitrogen” (NOx, NH3, NO3-).

    Even if they were completely harmless, I think you should clarify this point, for the sake of the good scientific level of the blog.

  75. The only nitrogen compound (other than N₂) inert enough to stay for some time in the atmosphere is nitrous oxide (N₂O, laughing gas). The rest have atmospheric lifetimes from hours to days.

    Current atmospheric concentration of N₂O is 327 ppb (part per billion), 16% above preindustrial level, increasing at an annual rate of 0.25%, its lifetime is ~110 years, anthropogenic contribution to emissions is less than 30%, the rest is completely natural.

  76. So will you go live in a vacuum? No I thought not.
    Nitrogen compounds are not new. As long as lightning has been around, 4.6Ga, there has been a trace of these gasses. Life carried on with no problems until these crank grant seekers came onto the scene.

  77. This reminds me of a saying George Carlin used to say:
    “Saliva causes stomach cancer, only when swallowed in small amounts over long periods of time”

    The rabbid left would have use run and hide from everything because they do not understand it and they think they can use it to control people. The shear idiocy of many of the things they come up with is astounding… But with plenty of low information voters to bleive every word they will do it anyway to gain power and control..

  78. Patrick says:
    May 14, 2014 at 1:11 am
    This is interesting. Given most people have enough iron in their bodies to make 1 nail, I have enough to make a bag full thanks to haemochromatosis. No more iron pots for me!

    Careful, the most popular alternative to Iron (more likely stainless steel) is Aluminium which is a potent Neurotoxin. Glass (ceramics) are probably safe enough but don’t work real well on induction stoves.

  79. Nick Stokes says:
    May 13, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    vboring says: May 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm
    “Obviously.”

    Indeed so. When your doctor recommends more iron in your diet, he isn’t talking about nails.

    Nick Stokes is a knowledgeable about dietary supplements & chemistry as he is about climate:

  80. When your doctor recommends more iron in your diet, he isn’t talking about nails.

    Iron-fortified cereal, perhaps? Try running a magnet through some.

  81. “Alan Robertson says:
    May 13, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    Do you suppose it might help to stop fertilizing marginal lands which are best suited for grazing, in order to raise corn for ethanol production?”

    Yes indeed, that would be a step forward. This paper notwithstanding, N2O has long been a concern as it has been steadily increasing in the atmosphere ever since we learned how to fix N2 chemically (first for explosives and then fertilizer). It has a clear role in catalyzing ozone degradation and is regarded as the primary 21st century ozone threat.

    Commenters are missing the point here- it’s reactive N that is at issue, not N2. Nitrates in drinking water (resulting from overfertilization) are a direct health threat. Nitrates in rivers cause the “dead zone” algal blooms at ocean outfalls. Fertilizing poorer marginal lands to squeeze more corn-based ethanol from them is only increasing these problems.

  82. I read “Fallen Angels” not long ago. The only problem I had was how the authors conflated the religious believers and the environmental believers. Since reading it, I have come to realize it was my perception that was in error, not the authors.

  83. And as for this whole argument about “nitrogen” vs. “nitrogen compounds” – the use of “nitrogen” as a shorthand is either intended to deliberately mislead the average reader, or, more likely, nothing more than sloppy writing – something that plagues these sort of discussions thanks in part to the warmist’s harping about “carbon”, and at least as much to the fact that nobody wants to hold these writers to a higher standard.

  84. Student: If I move carbon footprint to zero. Eliminate Nitrogen and dihydrogen monoxide from my life, then ,and only then will I be a good human?
    Teacher:That’s right.
    Good and dead.

  85. How much of that evil “nitrogen” is produced by the corn crops for alcohol production i wonder?
    I do not believe in these biofuels, but often those scientists focuses on a single adverse effect of a subtance but totally forget the benefits of the same substance.
    If the same methods were used for the biofuel crops, they would never be allowed. But there they only focused on the benefits. Funny world we live in.
    You have to be rather cynical to keep your mental health.

  86. “How much of that evil “nitrogen” is produced by the corn crops for alcohol production i wonder?”

    Gawd, quit with this rubbish. The authors of the paper aren’t making any claims about nitrogen being “evil”. That’s just rubbish you made up.

  87. Donald you are correct, but Phillip what is harmful to water ways, is phosphates leaching into rivers from farming land use of super phosphate fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides. Atmospheric nitrogen is not harmful.

  88. Every productive farmer uses fertilizers to support the growth of the food crops. The main needs of plants include nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. You cannot grow food, esp. high yield varieties, without meeting the needs of your crops. Someone here said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch,” and that is correct. You must feed and water your crops in order to get a good yield and keep your plants less vulnerable to the hundreds of diseases waiting in the wings. The use of synthetic fertilizers is clean, available at all times, and can be shipped simply and easily in tanks of any size.

    I do not buy organic food. It is a specialist, expensive, niche market. Applying manure to crops is risky because of bacteria such as ecoli. Putting manure on crops is not safe because these bacteria can live for 300 days, or possibly more. We just simply do not buy organic food for many reasons.

    The organic food interests are a powerful, loud and obnoxious lobby, and not afraid to slander good farmers and good farming practices, using environmental and cancer scares of every kind. But I just ignore them. The use of synthetic fertilizers is rational and scientifically based. This simple knowledge of N, K, and P could have saved the ancients a lot of time and sacrifices to get the fertility goddesses to do what a simple application of miracle gro will do.

  89. Let’s all keep in mind that the environmentalist activists and hopeless boomer irrationalists have displayed enough of a pattern to be able to recognize the trap: First, the funding roles in to begin a campaign of fear and uncertainty about some economic activity or necessity. We see the GHG include methane from cows, nitrous oxide from crops, and carbon dioxide from personal transportation and energy production. Other targeted substances include refrigerants, pest control, fertilizers, and any crop that some governing body determines is risky or will not be hardy enough to survive computer generated scenarios of global warming.

    Next the force of government is used to outlaw something that works, is plentiful, and is inexpensive, with something that is far more expensive and does not work nearly as well. This is illustrated by worthless wind turbines, but there are many other “sustainable” products forced on people by their governments.

    After everyone has, for example, curly bulbs spontaeously combusting, or leaking volatilized mercury in their homes, then the environmentalists and hippies blame “capitalism” for the nasty results of their own environmentalist coercements. This is what is happening to energy, lighting, refrigerants, “low water use detergents” (which burn on contact with skin), etc.; and now the same MO is being used with fertilizers for food crops.

  90. Let’s all keep in mind that the environmentalist activists and hopeless boom*r irrationalists have displayed enough of a pattern to be able to recognize the trap: First, the funding roles in to begin a campaign of fear and uncertainty about some economic activity or necessity. We see the GHG include methane from cows, nitrous oxide from crops, and carbon dioxide from personal transportation and energy production. Other targeted substances include refrigerants, pest control, fertilizers, and any crop that some governing body determines is risky or will not be hardy enough to survive computer generated scenarios of global warming.

    Next the force of government is used to outlaw something that works, is plentiful, and is inexpensive, with something that is far more expensive and does not work nearly as well. This is illustrated by worthless wind turbines, but there are many other “sustainable” products forced on people by their governments.

    After everyone has, for example, curly bulbs spontaeously combusting, or leaking volatilized mercury in their homes, then the environmentalists and hippies blame “capitalism” for the nasty results of their own environmentalist coercements. This is what is happening to energy, lighting, refrigerants, “low water use detergents” (which burn on contact with skin), etc.; and now the same MO is being used with fertilizers for food crops.

  91. I don’t buy organic food, it is expensive, especially if the farm is from a certified organic farm. Most organic foods one sees are not certified organic. How are we to know if they don’t use insecticides or herbicides? When I was studying my diploma in organic agricultural production, I am not a farmer. We emphasized that the use of chemical fertilizers killed off soil microorganisms.And for plants or crops to absorb nitrogen from the soil, a type of microorganism had to present, can’t remember the name, but they create a rhizosphere around the hair roots, look up the Soil Food Web. From what I remember, these microorganisms eat bacteria, and it is the microorganisms pooh that contains nitrogen that can be readily absorbed by the roots. Plants don’t have a digestive system. A soil test is necessary before we find out what mineral is lacking. Calcium and magnesium must be in the right balance, ie. Lime. But organic additions of manures for the home gardener can not harm. So long as it is composted and not straight from the horse or cow. pH is also something that can be tested. Most veggies and crops prefer an acid soil, depending on the species. But 6.5 pH is probably the best and you can add flowers of sulfur to gradually acidify soils and lime or dolomite to make them more on the other side of 7 pH. Organic compost teas if they are not prepared properly can carry E.Coli. But usually there is a withholding period of quite a few weeks or 1 inch of rain, before cropping. I tried it but I found adding the humus from my worm farm on top of soils was more effective.

    • If you apply Nitrogen to any plant directly it will grow, even in potting soils and seed starter mix. The plant uses it immediately and shows hardy growth.

      I would be shocked to find out that the fluffy mixtures of potting soil (the best ones, not with all of the sticks in it) have any micro organisms to speak of. In fact, soilless methods have even been developed for growing vegetables. So I am not entirely accepting at face value these academic arguments in comparison with experience and research.

      Over application is harmful to plants and therefore the farmers are not doing that!

      With regard to soil, too often, organic farmers are the ones who destroy the soil with pathogens and pests, and then move on somewhere else, using the umbrella of protection provided by a region where most of these diseases and pests have been put into Pandora’s Box by farmers who control them.

      Organic lobbyists want to open the box because there is money in it for them. Look at what they charge for the same food.

  92. bushbunny said:

    “Donald you are correct, but Phillip what is harmful to water ways, is phosphates leaching into rivers from farming land use of super phosphate fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides. Atmospheric nitrogen is not harmful.”

    Any particular reason you are stating the obvious at me, as explained clearly by the actual paper?

  93. I think we are arguing for the wrong reasons. A certified organic farm, be it growing vegetables or stock is observed and checked on for five years before it is certified organic. It is a very very expensive exercise. One can follow organic principles without being certified. For example my tutor farms free range eggs. But because they didn’t use certified organic grain, they could not claim to be certified. There are plenty of soil mixes labeled as organic. As well as fertilizers.
    And they do have micoorganisms present, but more increase when water is added through pot plant fertilizers.One uses a mask and gloves while handling them. Or should.
    Even sphagnum moss. People die each year after catching legionnaire’s disease from inhaling the spores present in soil mixes. What about tetanus. I have a 10 year booster because I am handling soils and bonsai soils, etc. On one teaspoon of soil there are billions of microorganism.
    And some can be harmful to humans. When you add fertilizers you are feeding the soil, and indirectly the plant. All soils are different favoring some plants and not others, as well as the natural environment where they grow. This is simple horticultural knowledge understanding what your soils are made up of. Compost does well because it is rich in microorganisms

  94. Organic farmers in my experience enrich soils not destroy them. It’s just getting rid of chemical fertilizers. And the composition of soils enriched that improves water conservation, temperatures stable, and encourages little bugs of nice kind. I think you are dead against organic principles my friend. Don’t worry, but sustainability is all about preserving the fertility of soils.

Comments are closed.