Bureaucracies Utterly Incapable of Making Reasonable Tradeoffs


Francis Menton

Often I focus on bureaucratic regulation of energy because the ability to restrict use of energy is the ultimate societal control. Once they have obtained the ability to restrict use of energy, bureaucrats could, if they choose, take away most of our freedom to enjoy life and return us to the income levels of the Stone Age. Will they stop before going that far, making reasonable tradeoffs to enable the people to flourish economically? Or will they instead pursue environmental purity without concern for the well-being of the populace?

So far all indications are that bureaucracies — and environmental bureaucracies in particular — are utterly incapable of making reasonable tradeoffs. You don’t go into a career as an environmental bureaucrat if you think that your concern for the environment is something that can or should be compromised.

In the U.S., battle is currently joined on multiple fronts as to whether unaccountable bureaucracies get to declare the non-toxic beneficial gas CO2 a “danger” to human health and welfare and thereby claim the ability to shut down the entire fossil fuel energy economy and force a multi-trillion dollar (and probably impossible and impoverishing) energy transition on the people. (One such front is the litigation where I am one of the lawyers, CHECC v. EPA, pending in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.). Also in the U.S., the Supreme Court, in the recent case of West Virginia v. EPA, has announced what they call the “major questions doctrine,” where bureaucrats, at least in areas of “major” economic impact, are to some degree constrained in their exercise of power by the explicit delegations of authority granted them by Congress. To the extent that restrictions on human activity in the name of the environment must gain approval from the Congress, there is at least a forum for competing interests to be heard, for tradeoffs to be considered, and for big mistakes to get corrected before enormous economic damage can be done.

But consider for a moment how it works in the different governance model of the EU, where bureaucrats answer to no one and are virtually unconstrained. This consideration is relevant to the U.S. situation, because the EU governance model of the unconstrained bureaucratic state, at least as to environmental issues, is the one favored by Democrats in our Congress and by the “liberal” justices on the Supreme Court.

Over in the EU, they have decided that nitrogen — or maybe it is “reactive nitrogen” — is a pollutant. And pollutants are bad, and therefore they should be reduced or, better, eliminated. And the bureaucracies have been empowered toward this goal.

Well, here’s the problem. Nitrogen is an essential building block of life, including human life, without which we all starve to death. Every protein is made up of amino acids, and every amino acid has at least one atom of nitrogen in it. Here is a table of the chemical formulas of the main amino acids:

So no nitrogen, no proteins. And no proteins, no people. So where are we going to get the nitrogen to make up our proteins? The air is about 78% nitrogen — how about just take it from there? But it turns out that neither plants nor animals have the ability to make direct use of the nitrogen in the air. Instead, the nitrogen needs to be “fixed” into the soil in some “reactive” form for plants to be able to use it; and then, animals get the nitrogen for their proteins from the plants. Throughout history, humans depended on the luck of the level of the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil to grow edible plants to make their proteins. But often the soil quality would be low. One way to up the nitrogen content of soil was animal manure. And then came along the technological advance of figuring out how to combine nitrogen from the air with hydrogen, generally from natural gas, to make ammonia (NH3) for fertilizer that could be spread on the ground. Between widespread use of manure and increase in manufactured ammonia fertilizers, suddenly lack of usable nitrogen in the soil was no longer a limiting factor on ability to grow crops. Over the twentieth century, and particularly the later decades, yields soared.

Here is a stock photo of crops on the same field, with and without nitrogen fertilizer:

But meanwhile over in the EU (and not just there), the battle of the bureaucrats to eliminate nitrogen pollution is in full swing. You probably recall the protests of the Dutch farmers from last summer. From Reuters, June 22, 2022:

Thousands of farmers were gathering in a village near the centre of the Netherlands on Wednesday to protest a government plan to curb nitrogen pollution. . . . The protest in Stroe, 70 kilometres east of Amsterdam, follows the introduction last week of targets for reducing pollution by harmful nitrogen compounds in some areas by up to 70% by 2030. . . . Reductions are necessary in emissions of nitrogen oxides from farm animal manure and use of ammonia for fertilisation, the government says. Nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere help form acid rain, while fertiliser washed into lakes can cause algal blooms that kill marine life.

But how about the need for nitrogen for proteins to keep the human population alive? They seem to have completely lost track of that. This is an area where the absolute goal of “no nitrogen” is completely insane. Sure, too much nitrogen in the wrong form and in the wrong place at the wrong time can be a problem. But nitrogen in sufficient amounts in a form usable in the soil is completely essential to feeding the human population here on earth. Tradeoffs must be made. Yet the bureacuracies, in their zealotry, appear completely incapable of even considering such heritical ideas.

This week the farmer protests have moved on to Belgium, which has joined the war against nitrogen-emitting agriculture. From Reuters, March 3:

Farmers from Belgium’s northern region of Flanders drove thousands of tractors into Brussels on Friday in a protest against a new regional government plan to limit nitrogen emissions. . . . Agricultural organisations said in a joint statement that the nitrogen agreement as it now stands “will cause a socio-economic carnage”.

I’ve got news for the EU bureaucrats: you can put all your farmers out of business, but unless you are planning to starve your own people the food will have to be produced somewhere, and the nitrogen “emissions” will be essentially the same. They’ll just be moved somewhere else. I’m old enough to remember when being self-sufficient in food production and not dependent on food imports was considered a positive good for a country. But that was before environmental zealotry went to the extremes that we see today.

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Tom Halla
March 8, 2023 6:10 pm

Anyone who has ever been regulated by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has an obscene opinion on the rationality of bureaucrats. The Volatile Organic Compounds limit for the Los Angeles air basin is wholly used up by emissions from plants. If you can smell a plant, like a sagebrush, it is emitting VOCs.
Their motto seemed to be “if we can count it, we can ban it”.

Reply to  Tom Halla
March 8, 2023 8:18 pm

Lots of cannabis terpenes, especially around city hall.

Mark BLR
Reply to  Tom Halla
March 9, 2023 3:08 am

Anyone who has ever been regulated by [ insert any large bureaucracy here ] has an obscene opinion on the rationality of bureaucrats.

“The behavior of any bureaucratic organisation can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies.” — [Robert] Conquest’s Third Law.

The larger the organisation (/ company you happen to be working for at the moment), the less ironic (and/or cynical) that “law” seems to become.

John Brown
Reply to  Mark BLR
March 10, 2023 12:20 pm

Correct. Robert Conquest’s second law of politics is also applicable :

“Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.”

John Shewchuk
March 8, 2023 6:12 pm

Great article. Agenda 21 is not a pretty sight.

Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 6:38 pm

So no nitrogen, no proteins. And no proteins, no people. “

This post is as silly as the last one. No-one is proposing no nitrogen, or even no hydrocarbons. The Dutch government is faced with a situation where excessive fertiliser leads to ammonia etc overflowing into natural environments. They propose reducing N emissions by 50%. Not “no nitrogen”.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 6:52 pm


I assume that fertilizer, like most economic inputs, is expensive, hence the farmers are probably in a better position than the bureaucrats to know how much is ‘excessive’. That’s even assuming, of course, that the bureaucrats in question actually give a damn about farming or water quality, rather than toppling Western civilization.

Last edited 3 months ago by Frank from NoVA
Nick Stokes
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 8, 2023 8:09 pm

You can argue about how much is excessive without talking about the population being wiped out by nitrogen deficiency.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 8:20 pm

But talking about the population being wiped out by global warming is just fine?

Or is that also irrational hokum that is definitely harming the future outlook of impressionable and unwise teens throughout the Western world?

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 8:33 pm

I’m not a farmer, so am not in any position to argue how much nitrogen is ‘excessive’. I suspect the same holds for you. By the way, the greatest risk now facing the population is the ‘fatal conceit’ that a relative handful of self-proclaimed ‘experts’ can and should make economic decisions for that population.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 9, 2023 5:28 am

*Some* of the population will be wiped out if you limit food production. There is not a single country in this world that does not have some amount of low nutrition/starving poor. Limit their access to food and they will cross-over into oblivion. The fact that you wish to ignore this is quite telling about your world view.

Instead of banning/limiting fertilizer how about working to limit runoff into streams and lakes? Since the Dust Bowl here many farmers here have instituted what I call tail-water pits (shallow ponds) which collect runoff but do not connect to streams or lakes. Algae growth in these bodies of water don’t cause any problems that I know of.

How about reviewing the use of nitrogen fertilizers to make sure the proper types and application processes are being used to minimize runoff? Injected anhydrous ammonia does not leach out in any great amount and while not the best for small grains and pastures would limit leaching. For small grains and grasses there are probably other types of nitrogen fertilizer and application processes that would limit runoff. It might be more expensive for the farmer but probably not as expensive as limiting their harvest output!

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 2:56 am

yeah you can so WHY is the Danish govt carrying on as IF it was an issue there?
the supposed “precious nature reserves/parks” have been alongside that farmland forever and theres ZERO proof they or waters been harmed in any way at all, with decades of prior farm use probably using more fertilisers than they do now due to cost and realising they didnt use as much and still got results?
aussie farmers used to waaay overload superphosphate when it was cheap, now theyre sparing but still do well
it seems less to do with the applied products than the hate against cows especially

Last edited 3 months ago by ozspeaksup
Reply to  Frank from NoVA
March 8, 2023 8:37 pm

The Dutch government has been warning about inundation of land from sea level rise. It seems they shouldn’t care about nitrogen if they really believed that.

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  Scissor
March 8, 2023 8:54 pm

Back when I was a kid, we were taught to admire how the industrious Dutch had recovered much of their country from beneath the waves of the Zuider Zee.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 8:14 pm

Way to erect those straw men that nobody suggested.
Everybody needs a purpose

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 8:16 pm

No offence Nick, but you wave away 50% like it’s nothing, just like you did with petrochemical products in the last article. These are not minor little inconveniences, or small little price increases. You can’t see the forest through trees. A small price increase here, another there, a blackout here, maybe another in a couple weeks. Small price to pay.

But when you add it all up, prices for everything have increased, products we take for granted are suddenly gone. The most disturbing and morally bankrupt part – it hits the poorest people hardest. Maybe you can afford a 20% cost of living increase, but for many it’s devastating. Maybe you can afford you’re power bill doubling, but many others can’t.

This is an attack on the working class and the working poor. And because crap rolls downhill, the hardest hit will be people in third world countries. Natural gas shortages are burdensome for Europe, but Pakistan literally cannot buy natural gas contracts. It is forced to buy everything on the spot market because Europe has fundamentally changed the market.

The Netherlands intends to buy out 3,000 farms to reduce nitrogen. This will cost taxpayers billions. And what are you left with – some very wealthy farmers, a gaping hole in agricultural production, and the thousands of spin-off jobs associated with that.

None of this is happening in isolation. The cumulative impact of net zero will destroy the western way of life – for everyone but the wealthiest, most privileged people in the world.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  JimmyV1965
March 8, 2023 9:06 pm

No offence Nick, but you wave away 50% like it’s nothing”
No, I’m just saying it isn’t
And no proteins, no people”
That is of no help in trying to work out what is an acceptable level. The farmer’s say the more the better; the government says it is overflowing into the environment. They just have to get some agreement on how much is enough.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 10:36 pm

I’ve read claims about “modern scientific farming” that the amount of fertilizer necessary for successful crop growing can be measured so that only the required amount of these expensive ingredients will be utilized. Thus the majority of modern farmers don’t do excessive fertilizer applications. Is this just a fantasy or is it a fact that is being ignored?

old cocky
Reply to  AndyHce
March 9, 2023 3:01 am

Fertilisers can be applied pre-sowing, at sowing, and post-emergent.
With relatively cheap soil tests and modern computerised farming equipment, the application rates can be tailored down to areas well below a hectare.
As a general rule, the fertiliser applications up to sowing are tailored for the expected growing conditions – less if things look a bit dry, more if conditions look good. There’s a fine line between wasting money by applying too much and the opportunity cost of too little.

The main nutrients added are Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, hence NPK fertilisers. With acidic soils, lime is often added as well to increase the pH. This can also be needed to counteract phosphate acidification.

Only some forms of nitrogenous fertilisers leach rapidly. Urea is quite slow release and can hold over until the following year if the plants don’t use it.

Studies conducted in Australia decades ago found that the high nitrate/nitrite levels in rivers were largely the result of people in towns fertilising their lawns. Similarly, phosphates largely came from fertilising lawns, along with laundry detergents.

btw, the nitrogen oxides which seem to be one of the concerns are a breakdown product of any nitrates, even those produced “organically” throgh crop rotations involving legumes.

Reply to  old cocky
March 9, 2023 5:42 am

The proof is in the pudding. Where do you see these “algae blooms”? Usually in rivers and lakes with large runoff from cities, either via storm drains or sewers.

Come to Kansas where fertilizer is used extensively on all kinds of crops. You just don’t see these problems in places like the Kansas River or Missouri River, or Corps water impounds, at least not in sufficient quantities to cause large negative impacts.

You see far more blooms downstream of feedlots and from cities emptying storm runoff and sewage into rivers because of micro-organisms flushed through without enough treatment.

It seems to be counter to common sense but around here you see more blooms in small creeks during dry conditions because there isn’t enough water movement to dilute the nutrients and/or algae micro-organisms.

It’s never as simple as government bureaucrats (who usually are *NOT* experts in anything) and academics try to make it out.

Reply to  old cocky
March 10, 2023 3:06 am

yeah i MISS the phosphate laundry detergents, I run the washwater to the garden to stop “non wetting” issues save water and while the garden still benefits it sure did better before they removed the P from it

Reply to  AndyHce
March 9, 2023 10:44 am

Thus the majority of modern farmers don’t do excessive fertilizer applications.

That is my understanding too. It’s also discussed quite a lot on the ag-specific shows on RFD-TV.

Reply to  AndyHce
March 10, 2023 3:03 am

direct drill seeding applies a tiny amt of granulated fertiliser along with the seed in the rows only, expensive machinery but a huge saving in fertiliser costs

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 9, 2023 4:32 am

The farmer’s say the more the better …”

Nick, do you even know any farmers? Have you ever discussed this with them? What do you know about fertilizing crops with today’s technology?

Holy cow dude. You are ignorant about how modern farming works.

Tell you what, look at your yard after fertilizing it. Then go out and look at some equivalent farm fields that are used for grazing. Do you see thick, lush, absolutely green farm lands the same as what you see in a city? Where do you think the fertilizers applied to lawns go? They go right down storm sewers into the nearest body of water!

You haven’t even bothered to research modern farming techniques have you? Ask yourself where the food those 3,000 purchased farms grew are going to come from! This world is turning into the same dystopian society as in the Hunger Games. Do you think that is a good thing?

Reply to  Jim Gorman
March 10, 2023 6:51 am

Not to overlook that bureaucrats utterly destroy farming land as they build parking lots, office parks, shopping malls and sports arenas.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 9, 2023 10:43 am

“The farmer’s say the more the better;”

I can’t speak for all farmers by any means, but too much nitrogen is bad for the plants too. Especially fruiting plants. I certainly don’t go by “the more the better”.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Tony_G
March 9, 2023 7:55 pm

Indeed so. The Dutch government is saying, let’s get the right amount, and farmers are up in arms.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 3:12 am

no the dutch govt want nearly ALL their dairy cows culled and the land UNused.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 3:31 am

That is *NOT* what the government is saying. Otherwise they wouldn’t be threatening to buy up farms.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 9:12 am

The Dutch government is saying, let’s get the right amount

By that statement, you’re saying that the farmers are using too much nitrogen and causing damage to their plants and they’re too dumb to understand the optimal amount for best crop production.

Can you explain to me WHY farmers would not use the optimal amount and would overuse it and have worse production as a result?

Reply to  Tony_G
March 10, 2023 3:12 am

yes excess nitrogen…gets huuuge lush growth and bugger all fruit or seed cattle wont eat that supergreen grass either theyre smart enough to know its going to give em a gutsache x4, even dogs dont tend to browse the over rich grass ive noticed(after my horse deposited helpful soil nutrients)
made the mistake of using some old very deep well aged birdcage cleanings on a garden bed
well stand back growth lush and spectacular but the 6ft high grasses produced small heads of millet and the birds wouldnt eat it at all

Reply to  ozspeaksup
March 10, 2023 2:09 pm

I had a chicken coop that I put in an area I wanted to plant a garden one summer. This was in Las Vegas NV. The next spring I planted tomatoes. I got the biggest fastest growing GREEN tomato plants EVER!!

The funny thing is that those HUGH plants only produced about as many tomatoes per plant that any other plant I had planted in previous years.

Lucky tomatoes are RED, or I never would have found them in all the excess foliage.

Definitely too much nitrogen.

They tasted good though.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  JimmyV1965
March 9, 2023 7:03 am

Plus that gaping hole in agricultural production will presumably be filled by importing food from elsewhere enabled by the use of nitrogen – so what have you achieved ?

Reply to  Dave Andrews
March 10, 2023 6:54 am

“will presumably be filled by importing food from elsewhere”

That will be an amazing trick when bureaucrats ban fossil fuels.
Bureaucrats are setting up their countries for total economic failure and famine for their citizens.

Reply to  JimmyV1965
March 9, 2023 8:18 am

And thousands of formerly neat, well-managed and economically productive farmlands completely overtaken by ugly invasive plants and scrub, practically impenetrable and useless to anyone. If they want something better than that, guess what, they will have to actively manage the land, releasing — oh, heavens! — greenhouse gases.

Reply to  pflashgordon
March 10, 2023 7:00 am

Or they’ll organize urbanites to plant trees!

Like most semi-organized groups pushing tree planting, they will plant trees unsuitable for lumber, wildlife, rain control, etc.

Luckily, woody mass can supply lignin needed for making paper.

Since governments want to destroy technological advancement they’ll need paper to replace computers and phones.

Reply to  JimmyV1965
March 10, 2023 3:01 am

the govt theres pretty much admitted it want the farmland to build housing for the obscene amount of illegal immigrants it accepted and cant house, I suspect that land will go to rich people for mansions and the city areas of low quality will get govt flats/newstyle slums instead

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 8:33 pm

You don’t know what you are talking about Nick.
4 billion people rely on food grown with nitrogenous fertilizer .
If the Dutch succeed in cutting fertilizer by 50% they will cut food production by almost the same percentage.
Cut back on fertilizer and food production will drop drastically .
The world did not need nitrogenous fertilizer when there were only 2.5 billion people but it is now essential.
I have been farming since the 1950s and have seen the gradual increase in nitrogenous fertilizer but even a 30% reduction now would cause widespread hunger through lower yields of all arable crops .Fertilizer applications are becoming very sophisticated and even those farmers who are not using the latest technology learn from other farmers the exact amount to apply .
The price increase alone will stop farmers from using excess nitrogen .
A 300% increase in price two years ago will flow through to less food being grown untill food prices increase dramatically .
Thunder storms do release nitrogen that is readily available but other than that there are only two source’s of nitrogen other than legumes which are animal and poultry manures or artificial nitrogen manufactured using natural gas .

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Graham
March 8, 2023 9:09 pm

All I am talking about is that
“And no proteins, no people”
has no place in a rational discussion of the need to limit the overflow into the environment.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 11:39 pm

This is what you do: You read an entire piece and completely avoid the central argument. Instead, you find one little segment of a phrase, invent some nitpicky problem with it, or just completely take it out of context, then declare the entire piece worthless. This is a recurring pattern with you that I’ve noticed. It’s intellectually dishonest, and logically fallacious, and I think you know that.

As you I’m sure are aware, the author is just talking about how Nitrogen is necessary for life. No Nitrogen, no proteins. No proteins, no people. That is a statement of fact. Do you disagree? It was not a statement of their political objective.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Mantis
March 9, 2023 7:52 pm

It isn’t one little segment. It is a constant scare drumbeat.

Well, here’s the problem. Nitrogen is an essential building block of life, including human life, without which we all starve to death.”

But how about the need for nitrogen for proteins to keep the human population alive? They seem to have completely lost track of that. 

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 2:19 pm

Lets cut nitrogen fertilizer use by, I don’t know, you know, I haven’t done any studies or anything, but I think 50% is FAIR!!

What a joke Nick. You usually have something to support your support of CAGW garbage, but this time you have nothing. You just THINK 50% is reasonable?

They MUST HAVE HAD some GOOD reason to pick 50%, right Nick.

No, they didn’t.

Just like a 1.6 gallon/6 liter flush toilet. When they picked that number, there was no functional 1.6 gallon toilet.

Some would argue, myself included, that for solids, there is still no economical 1.6 gal toilet.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 11:59 pm

So where do the replacement proteins come from? Or are you saying that farming using nitrogen fertiliser doesn’t add protein directly or indirectly to to human diets?

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 9, 2023 7:46 pm

The proposal is to reduce fertiliser use, not eliminate it.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 3:30 am

Then why are they going to buy up farms? Ans: to eliminate the use of fertilizer.

Again, the answer should be to reduce runoff, not to reduce the use.

Blunt instruments are never the right answer but that seems to be all that bureaucrats know how to use. The first approach should be “first, do no harm”. What are they going to do when they find out there regulations don’t help the problem but has hurt the food supply? Add more regulation?

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 3:15 am

Id be amazed if theres truthfully much getting off farm as dungbeetles in EU are plentiful(unlike aus for example) so there isnt poop to be washed away its been taken a foot or more down to do good for soil n worms n biota

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 7:04 am

All I am talking about is that

“And no proteins, no people”

has no place in a rational discussion”

Again, you refuse simple logic and the absolute end result in order to propose your alarmist insanity.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Graham
March 8, 2023 11:56 pm

I grew up in a rural area with mixed farming. I was under the impression that Clover fixed nitrogen and cattle liked to eat it.

A three way win as rotation meant well fed cattle and better yields for crops a lower cost.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 9, 2023 11:31 am

I don’t know about the cattle part, but yes on the clover.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
March 10, 2023 3:17 am

yes like lucerne does too but too much of a good thing kills cattle and horses and sheep, colic/bloat/foundering is cruel to see and have to handle, best to grow and make hay from, and till clover in as green manure

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 9:39 pm

Typical of the arrogance of the dimwitted dogooders of the left. Nitrogen fertilizer is very expensive and the days of applying it extravagantly are long gone. The greentards come late to the party with outdated information and then set out to save the world by cranking up the irrational fear machinery . Of course accurate understanding of the situation is anathema to the real goal which is world domination by the perpetually afraid.

Reply to  BCBill
March 10, 2023 3:20 am

smiling;-) thats like your pet permanantly offendeds in ussa wanting kangaroo leather banned as were “nasty” to the poor threatened roos apparently
dunno- a few hundred million and going to be millions more after the flood/rains this coming yr or two makes that way outdated utterly wrong data..they used even more ludicrous!

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 11:32 pm

So they cut it 50% and they declare job well done and go home? Yeah right.

Reply to  Mantis
March 10, 2023 2:23 pm

Nope, a start is just a start for liberal fanatics.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 8, 2023 11:38 pm

You have no idea what you’re talking about, you think farmers are just chucking this very expensive stuff around willy nilly?

What they are proposing in the Netherlands is worse than “no nitrogen”, they are actually going for compulsory purchasing of farms they deem non compliant.

So you lose your farm, that’s probably been in your family for generations, because some ditch has a bit too much algae in it.

This has nothing to do with nitrogen or pollution, it’s a trojan horse that is being used by eco zealots to fundamentally change the Netherlands forever.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 9, 2023 3:51 am

Is it really excessive fertilizer? I would note that there are many sources other than farmers – such as output from sewage treatment plants.
I wonder if this may be another case of urban vs. rural such as on water: the farmers in California simply don’t have the votes or economic power to fight water grabs by the big cities. I can see a similar dynamic: the “nutrient runoff” per farmer is much higher than per urban city dweller even as the same farmer is feeding all those urban city dwellers.
I would also note that it seems improbable that farmers would be wasting nutrients to runoff if it is at all feasible to limit this outside of outright bans. Outright bans are just going to drive up the cost of food and shift production offshore into the Jungle – thus keeping the EU Garden nice and neat.

Reply to  c1ue
March 9, 2023 12:02 pm

I would note that there are many sources other than farmers

suburban lawns

Nick Stokes
Reply to  c1ue
March 9, 2023 7:43 pm

I don’t have an opinion on whether it is excessive. That is up to the Dutch. There are changes in the environment. Whether that is important enough to require changes to fertiliser use is for them to decide.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 2:25 pm

Not the “Dutch”, the looney left.

George B
Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 9, 2023 5:23 am

Sri Lanka

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 9, 2023 8:34 am

Ammonia is a GAS, Nick. It does not overflow into natural environments. Read up on the nitrogen cycle before making such inane statements.

So farmers have been applying nitrogen fertilizer for crop production for centuries, and modern nitrogen fertilizers for DECADES, all the while employing increasingly effective means to maximize plant utilization of applied N, in whatever form. Then, SUDDENLY, governments across the globe have had this “aha” moment, discovering that some percentage of the nitrogen escapes and asserting that this is an existential threat, to the point of banning or curtailing farming.

Hmm, what might be behind this abrupt nitrogen jihad? Could it be the grim reaper, causing mass death by starvation in the name of the climate gods? Of course, Europeans won’t starve. Food will be more expensive, but they will buy it from elsewhere. In developing countries, however, unaffordable or unavailable food (because the rich Europeans ate it all) will lead to mass starvation of those “little people,” those eaters who don’t deserve to live.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
March 10, 2023 6:44 am

Typical ignorant urban delusions.

The Dutch government is faced with a situation where excessive fertiliser leads to ammonia etc overflowing into natural environments.”

Right out of an enviro-whacky’s stream of pseudo consciousness.

Any excess fertilizer would be from urbanites and suburbanites who have zero clue about “how much” fertilizer is needed for their plants.

Farmers spend thousands EVERY TIME they spray their fields.
A) Track their usage.
B) Test for nutrient deficiencies and sufficiency.
C) Track every gram of fertilizer/herbicide/insecticide they need.

Environuts blame farmers for excessive nitrogen in drainages, but almost never find the farm causing higher nitrogen levels.
Also ignored are the great algae blooms that occur down current of sewage treatment plants.

March 8, 2023 6:59 pm

The modern day version of the Four Pests Campaign. If they carry out their plan, it will likely have similar if not worse results. These people are against life itself.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  MarkH
March 9, 2023 3:23 am

Another example of self appointed experts and gullible politicians saving us.

March 8, 2023 7:06 pm

This is not just bureaucrats, if you haven’t noticed a number of the key advisors to the WEF, friend of the EU, IPCC and Communist China and the Democrat Party here, are people like Paul Ehrlich champion against world population and others who push the idea that the population should be reduced to levels that existed 500 years ago. Food scarcity would go a long way to accomplishing that objective.

David H
March 8, 2023 7:33 pm

Providing a Table of Amino Acids is so….Racist, Sexist, Patriarchal and Hetero-Normative Anti-Trans/LGBT….Perhaps the Element Nitrogen would rather identify as another Element that is more exotic like Xenon. As Greta would say “How dare you.”

Reply to  David H
March 8, 2023 8:29 pm

A while ago, I learned that a lot of unsaturated organic compounds can be cis or trans; it didn’t have the same meaning back then.

When I took biochem, we had to memorize the structure of the amino acids, along with their stereochemistry and pKa’s.

Reply to  David H
March 9, 2023 5:44 am

You left out “white supremacist” in your list. Just sayin’.

Reply to  guidvce4
March 10, 2023 3:23 am

thats automatic as super phosphate is whitish granules;-)

Reply to  David H
March 10, 2023 3:22 am

true and wheres the pronouns?

March 8, 2023 8:18 pm

Keep up the good work Francis, we need it. What we also need is a path to hold these bureaucrats and administrators accountable. Personally accountable. Every bureaucrat/administrator who votes for or councils for these mindless actions should be publicly listed with their vote and how that vote will harm society in general and individuals in particular. These rascals may or may not be accountable to our political leaders but they damn sure are accountable to us.

Reply to  Bob
March 8, 2023 9:11 pm

Totally agree Bob. These idiots need a lesson in personal accountability, they should reduce their input of meat and vegetables for the good of the planet! If they won’t or cannot, then they should not expect the rest of us to similarly suffer hunger because of their virtue signaling. If the ultimate purpose of Net Zero is depopulation to reduce pressure on the planet’s resources, one could do worse than start with useless bureaucrats who serve only to perpetuate their fiefdoms and impose more rules on the rest of us. I’me all for small government, and removal of supranational powers unless they have a democratic basis and can be shown to act on behalf of all not just unelected elites.

Reply to  bobclose
March 10, 2023 3:25 am

thats the funny part…their vegan diets will require heavy yields or much more land clearing to feed the fools

Peta of Newark
March 9, 2023 12:34 am

Thank you Author Menton – welcome to the world of Magical Thinking

i.e. Self-brainwashing: Coming out of chronic, chemically induced, depression.
Best exemplified in weed users and alcoholics. Most significantly nowadays, consumers of refined sugars and Comfort Food

You describe all the symptoms:

  • Intransigence/belligerence
  • Appeals to authority/consensus
  • Glacial thinking & actions
  • Irrational fear/paranoia
  • Fixation on trivia & irrelevance
  • Wilful ignorance
  • Inflated self importance
  • Seeing ghosts and enemies everywhere

The last point is much worse than you might/will simply ‘laugh off’
It is that the chemical depression leads to what most folks think of as ‘depression’ – general sadness and feelings of low self-worth. Lack of self-confidence (##)
i.e. That you are leading a meaningless or empty life

And as a young female reporter/writer was quoted (around here) as saying:
The easiest/simplest way to give meaning to your life is to make an enemy

Hopefully I hear an awful lot of pennies dropping.
Face it, that’s all that warmists are doing= telling everyone else that they are being hurt/injured through the use of fossils…
Skeptix invariably reply to say that warmists are inflicting/wanting-to-inflict harm upon them.
Or the children, the cobalt miners, the eagles, the 3rd world etc etc etc

Both parties are equally trapped by the same thing.

So, back to Nitrogen
(Something has just happened here, dawned on me and I’ve learned something that I simply can not believe. You’ll hear about it soon but basically, we really are in a Dark Age here. We really really are)

Easily 15 years ago, the EU took upon itself the task of regulating ‘waste’

‘Waste’ was taken to mean anything and everything, it was the most broadly encompassing ‘thing’ you ever could imagine – from kitchen scraps, car tyres, old computers, lawn-mowings, builders rubble, old plastic, metal etc etc etc etc
For the bureaucrats in Brussels it was a dream come true = an unimaginably Big Thing that touched upon the lives and work of everybody & everything and guaranteed their place in heaven for 1000% sure. They were minted in every way by enacting this thing.

(You do understand CO2 now?)

One of the centrepieces of this humongous beast was about how farmers managed their ‘waste’
As a UK livestock farmer at the time, I came to be very aware of this, especially as anything created by Brussels is magnified by a factor of 10+ when it goes through Westminster/Whitehall

Fact is, there is No Such Thing as Agricultural Waste
OK there may be big piles of less-than-fragrant stuff lying around and also nicer stuff, like straw left behind combine harvesters.
Folks might, and do, see it as ‘waste’ and farmers may/do grumble about managing it, but that still doesn’t mean that it is worthless or an environmental disaster, hence that farmers are all ugly planet-wasting toads. They just have a different set of priorities AND, a different sense of humour (##)

But as we see here, the ‘smelly stuff’ got all the attention and the proposals for it were beyond draconian and mindbogglingly expensive. Even at the quoted costs of the bureaucrats and everyone knows that Cronies always multiply those by a factor of 10+

Until and surprise of surprises, farmers in Spain came to the rescue.
Somehow they put up a case and an amendment to this new Waste Behemoth that said that farmyard manures and slurries were not in fact ‘waste’
That those things were invaluable fertilisers and must not be classified as ‘waste’ – else what would happen to other things classically designated as ‘fertilisers’
iow: Where did ‘Goodness’ end and Waste begin?

The Spaniards got the exemption.

But we now see the Magical Thinking, the Sour Losers, the life deficient depressives couldn’t get over their loss.
They simply **had** to regulate cow-poo and after nearly 20 years, here they are again

## Self confidence and sense-of-humour are one and the same thing.
This is why whenever any girl anywhere in The West puts an advert into any form or variation of Dating Agency, she *always* specifies that she’s looking for a GSOH
That boys with such a thing are now the rarity/exception – that almost nobody now has a GSOH

That simple little observation tells the extent of the problem/sh1t we are in here

Reply to  Peta of Newark
March 9, 2023 6:00 am

In a former life I lived in an area replete with dairy farms. As part of my job at the time, I made regular trips out amongst all the farms and the “smelly stuff” let me know of its presence. I commented to one of the dairy farmers about it. His response was classic, “that’s the smell of money in the air”. After that, when I visited his farm, we would comment on how “rich” the air smelled on any given day. Ah, good times.
EU is making a huge error and hopefully the farmers are able to influence the morons who run that bogus organization.

Leo Smith
March 9, 2023 1:04 am

All these laws are actually the equivalent of Sanctions on Russia. Russian controlled Bureaucrats attempt to destroy the West with legislation.

Fertilizer price has gone through the roof because of lack of Russian gas to make it, and Russian potash.

Seems nearly all Green legislation benefits Russia…

Back in the day I laughed at McCarthy.

Then at College I met a communist ‘we will win with the long march through the institutions.’

And they have.

Reply to  Leo Smith
March 10, 2023 2:37 pm

After the USSR fell, KGB records were released and those records PROVED that almost all of the accused communist sympathizers were on the Soviet payroll.

The MSM, NYT, WaPo, etc. never bothered to report any of that information, since the people who run all those organizations would need to first declare their belief that the McCarthy investigations were “evil”, and that they had always been duped by the Communists.

And even to this day, they use Russia, Russia, Russia to cover their complicity in the fraud.

Funny, if is wasn’t so bad for the country and the world.

March 9, 2023 3:00 am

Marx doesnt give a damn. He wants you weak, poor and starving.

We are at WAR! Forget the debate, go straight for the weapons. Thats all Marxists need to know about, lead, at high speed.

March 9, 2023 3:45 am

As I have mentioned before: the bureaucrats are relatively minor, in this case, compared to the effects of high natural gas prices.
I am watching closely to see just how much nitrogen fertilizer production in Europe falls due to the much higher natural gas prices, which in turn arose from the combination of sanctions and Nord Stream attacks – the latter which guarantee low prices won’t be coming back.
Ammonia production was down 50% at one point last year; nitrogen fertilizer production was down 70%. The various food scarcities/shortages in the UK are likely due to the effects of this as well as high energy prices and CO2 shortages on European and British food producers.
Egg shortages: https://www.poultryworld.net/poultry/layers/shortage-of-eggs-set-to-continue-in-the-uk/
Avian flu, but also the high cost of energy because all of the UK except Scotland has required all poultry to be kept indoors = higher heating and lighting cost.
Potato and produce shortages: https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/uk-spud-shortage-sees-shop-29277704#
“Britain is in the throes of a potato shortage and big chain supermarkets are already rationing the likes of tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, with farmers unable to meet UK demand”
Energy prices
Fruit and vegetable shortages: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-64718826
“The UK’s largest supermarket, Tesco, and discounter Aldi have said they are putting limits of three per customer on sales of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
Asda has capped sales of lettuces, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflowers and raspberry punnets to three per customer, along with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
And Morrisons has set limits of two on cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuces and peppers.”
Here in California – the local discount grocery store just had a weekly sale: $3.99 for 12 eggs(!)
Tomatoes have been outrageous – $2.99/lb for Roma when prices could be well under $1 even just 18 months ago.
Lettuce: $3 a head vs. $1.50-$2, 18 months ago.

Reply to  c1ue
March 10, 2023 3:32 am

try aus with no real shortages to speak of
apples are 7 99 a kilo ie 4 apples if lucky eggs are 7 to 10 or more a dozen butters 8 or more a half kilo 4 oranges 4$ today at the local
2 major brands of dog food have vanished from shelves and an 8kg bag of pal was 24 at woolies yesterday! was 18 or so just 6 weeks ago and even seeing a bag of that now is unusual
home branded dry dog food has vanished as well
we have zeroshortages of grains oR meat byproducts to cause this
one Sth Aus made dry food is now 54 for 20kg and Im lucky to get it
that same product was 41 a yr ago

March 9, 2023 9:53 am

“You will never understand bureaucracies until you understand that for bureaucrats procedure is everything and outcomes are nothing.” – T. Sowell

old cocky
Reply to  sskinner
March 9, 2023 12:07 pm

He is quite wrong.

It’s process and procedure.

Richard Greene
March 10, 2023 12:47 am

The big picture here is this is just a symptom of Rule by “Experts” totalitarianism.

Bureaucrats know more about farming than farmers
They know more about automobiles than auto manufacturers
They know more about electric grids than grid engineers
They know more about stoves than chefs do
They know the future climate even when climate scientists always guess wrong

They think they are experts on every subject, except one:
The US Constitution … that was supposed to prevent such a powerful central government … one that is quickly morphing from the current socialism (US government spending at all levels reached 34.5% of GDP in 2022 — that’s socialism by my definition) to fascism, and eventually Marxism.

Last edited 3 months ago by Richard Greene
Reply to  Richard Greene
March 10, 2023 3:43 am

Biden’s current budget proposal does what Democrats always do – eat away at the productivity of the economy. By raising taxes on “unrealized capital gains” they are whacking away at the capital needed to fund private investment in the US – all so the government can spend even more than it does now. It assumes that government bureaucrats can spend money more wisely and more efficiently than private individuals.

It is the quintessential Marxism – “from each according to ability, to each according to need”, need as determined by government bureaucrats – whose needs are always higher than anyone else’s.

March 10, 2023 2:52 am

and the green and whacko ausgov psyops mob at ABC are already starting the anti nitrogen scam here along with victorias DEWLP aggro MISmanagement dept running bullshit about it inn the local rural papers

John Brown
March 10, 2023 1:07 pm

The irony is for the Malthusians and genuine environmentalists amongst all those pushing CAGW/Net Zero is that nothing brings a peaceful population reduction quicker than abundant supplies of cheap food and energy.

No one
March 19, 2023 2:31 pm

Just 50%.

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