The varied and widespread symptoms of nitrogen pollution are grassland changes, acidic soils, stressed biodiversity, marine pollution, algal blooms and dying fish. Even areas of China far away from the source of pollution are feeling these symptoms as surplus nitrogen cascades through its habitats.
The China Agricultural University researchers studied the increased nitrogen uptake in plants that received no nitrogen fertilizer to drive home their point that "all these changes can be linked to a common driving factor, strong economic growth."
The study calls for Chinese authorities to reduce ammonia emissions from agricultural sources and curb nitrous oxide pollution from industry and traffic. "The tricky thing about nitrogen is it's related to food production. So there is no question that we need to have nitrogen added to crops. It's inevitable that there will be some leakage of nitrogen from the croplands. But you have to have it to grow food for 7 billion people," Davidson said.
"We know a lot about how to reduce emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes and agricultural runoff," he added, explaining that it's not a question of how to do it but that it requires personal, political and economic incentives.
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500