Why Nitrogen is more potent than CO2



Nitrogen is an element essential for plant growth and food production in today's world. It plays a key role in mass food production as well as genetic modification and without nitrogen, plants would not be able to exist, thus nitrogen is essential to human life.  But it is actually more deadly than Carbon Dioxide - why?

Nitrates are almost 300 times more potent than Carbon Dioxide and contribute more than Carbon Dioxide to global warming. They are what we use to fertilise and grow crops on an industrial scale, making them necessary in today's world if we are to fight famine and prevent starvation. Nitrates are used as opposed to insecticides on plants making the crops more safe to eat.  Yet they're more damaging to the environment.

Nitrates play an essential part in the production of GM crops, which we need if we are going to keep up with global demand for food consumption and address famine issues. But they're being used was too much and, on average, farmers use around 30% more than needed on there crops. The usage could, and should, be cut by 30% without any changes to food production.  This would not just cut down on wastage and make food production more efficient, but also reduce the harmful effects nitrates have on the environment.

We can not go back to the old days where all our food is produced naturally, relying solely on the minerals in the soil and sunlight. We have to remain using nitrates and genetic modification if we are to survive on the planet, yet we also need to limit and cut the usage of nitrates used on our plants and vegetation. 
This can be done by the introduction of incentives by the government and awareness campaigns. We can also cut the usage by introducing regulations on how the amount of nitrates farmers are allowed to use on crops, like I stated earlier on, farmers are currently using 30% more nitrates on their produce than needed. Introduce limits and we will start to make progress.

Some action is already being taken, though, to combat the nitrogen emissions. The 1999 Gothenburg Protocol focuses on cutting both sulphur and nitrogen emissions. The convention was an result of concerns about acid rain, to which both elements are contributors. Between 1990 and 2004 nitrogen oxide emissions fell by one third, having an incredible impact on the climate. This needs to continue and at a faster rate.


By: Joshua May,  Political writer and activist and supporter of old Labour. @JoshuaMayLabour

 
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