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EPA Cracking Down on Urban and Agricultural Runoff Blamed for Dead Zones

By Matthew Berger

Nov 13, 2009

“The rate at which N2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to reactive nitrogen for human use,” say the study’s authors, is one of the “rates of change that cannot continue without significantly eroding the resilience of major components of Earth-system functioning.”


See also:

Organic Farming Yields Far Better Crop Resistance and Resilience

Food Production Can and Should Step Away from the Fossil Fuels

US Government Still Promoting Use of Coal Ash on Crops

Why Is the Media Afraid to Tackle Livestock's Role in Climate Change?


(Illustration: , NASA/GSFC)


Great post, really interesting stuff.

I agree with Miya, it's hard to see how the nitrogen levels are going to come down in the next few years. It's crazy to see that there's such an issue which really doesn't get enough coverage.

Obama's New Initiative

It is fantastic that the new American president is really pushing cause for concern on subjects such as this, especially after the destruction that was caused by the former president around the world. It is just as important to promote awareness and contribute efforts towards tree replanting initiatives in the rain forests, as trees play a vital part in the nitrogen cycle. Strategic replanting and felling could create balance for the current state of nitrogen gas saturation in certain areas, and under very precise scientific scrutiny and study could provide beneficial and measurable results.

Very informative

This is very informative. I never really knew that nitrogen posed this much of a problem.

disrupted nitrogen cycle

It produce nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates has 298 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.

298 times ??
its unbelievible man.

No time to waste

The post has been very informative, but will it really be put to use. I don't see level of nitrogen coming down in next few decades. Like you said even denitrification is not of much help as the end product its going to produce would either be nitrogen gases or ammonium, both are as harmful as nitrogen itself. Reduction of CO2 and nitrogen comes as a package deal, if we reduce one using renewable sources of energy other is automatically reduced, this is true as far as industries are concerned but to reduce agricultural production of nitrogen, we will have to cut down on fertilizers and make our way towards organic farming, as nitrogen is amply produced naturally by leguminous plants and there is no way we can help that.

nitrogen is the new carbon

Thanks for this informative post! I work with nitrogen scientists and am painfully aware of how under-reported the issue is. thanks for helping shine the light on this pressing global challenge. readers interested in learning more about the myriad issues surrounding nitrogen can read the basics (and the not-so-basics, but told in plain language) here: .

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