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Farmers rely on nitrogren fertilizer to cultivate their crops and feed our nation but the excessive application of the chemicals that help crops grow also pose serious environmental risks elsewhere. In addition to creating toxic runoff, the production of ammonia for fertilizer may result in up to 100 times more methane emissions than previously estimated. What’s truly startling? This figure is more than what the Environmental Protection Agency estimates all industries emit across theU.S.
– All other industries combined, including that of waste, chemical and metal production, produce only 8 gigagrams of methane emissions annually as estimated by the EPA – a mere 27% of the fertilizer industry’s emissions
The Foundation of Modern Agriculture: Before modern farming, people could only grow crops periodically as they had to wait for nutrients to be restored in the soil. Fertilizers, however, allow farmers to bypass this natural nitrogen cycle and continuously grow crops. Nitrogen-based ammonia fertilizer makes the agriculture industry function but is wreaking havoc on the environment as it’s produced and later when it runs off and enters bodies of water.
US Production: The United States is one of the world’s biggest producers and consumers of ammonia. From 2006 to 2015, domestic production of ammonia rose approximately 7.9 million metric tons to 9.4. But domestic production of ammonia, rather than being curtailed, is only ramping up. Since President Trump took office, his administration has been attempting to roll back methane regulations, eliminating barriers for polluters to emit methane, even going as far as calling natural gas “freedom gas”.
Why This Matters: According to UN estimates, the world’s population will reach 7.7 billion people by 2020. As more humans inhabit the planet it will only further place pressure on farmers to grow more food, more quickly. Not only would the increased use of nitrogen fertilizers cause harm to bodies of water, but its production will drastically worsen climate change, as emissions of methane have 25 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide over a century. Furthermore, co-pollutants associated with the production of methane, such as benzene and toluene, can cause long-term health risks to local communities.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The earth is collapsing under Russia’s northeastern towns as global warming melts the permafrost beneath them. Permafrost occupies 65% of Russia’s landmass, making this massive thawing particularly destructive. “There isn’t a single settlement in Russia’s Arctic where you wouldn’t find a destroyed or deformed building,” said Alexey Maslakov, […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Heirs’ property is a type of land ownership whereby property is passed down without a will, and it’s one of the main reasons Black families in the US are losing their land. But the Mobile Basin Heirs’ Property Support Initiative announced yesterday could help families in Mississippi’s Mobile Bay […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The White House announced Friday that President Biden will use his executive authority to restore protections for three national monuments drastically reduced during the Trump Administration. He will reestablish and increase the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, both of which are in Utah. The orders […]
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