In the article, Nitrogen Pollution Likely to Increase Under Climate Change, Irfan and Climate Wire (2012) expound the subject of nitrogen pollution and climate change. It is noted that humanity's nitrogen footprint has been found on watersheds that were once thought to be untouched. This leads to the realization that humanity's influence on the world has arisen to unexpected levels. The article posits that nature’s nitrogen equilibrium has changed and is currently dependent on human factors. This change is dangerous for the world full of nitrogen as it has negative effects on the environment. The article describes how nitrogen exists in many dangerous forms (like nitrogen nitrous oxide). The article goes further to expound the problem of the climate change that can bring difficulties in controlling dangerous forms of nitrogen in the atmosphere.
The topic discussed in this article is important scientifically and socially. First of all, the article has highlighted the crucial issues concerning nitrogen that the world needs to know. For instance, we have been made to rethink the scramble for greenhouses, as they produce the dangerous nitrous oxide. Nitrous oxide has more devastating effects than carbon dioxide, for it can trap 300 times more heat than carbon dioxide. In addition, the gas can stay in the atmosphere for an unusually long time (300 years). If the world seeks to continue food production using greenhouses, it needs to develop more means of dealing with such harmful effects to the atmosphere.
Regular farm practices have been sighted to contribute significantly to nitrogen pollution in the world. The world is increasingly moving towards nitrogen fertilizers in order to boost yields. They are relatively cheap and efficient (Hoggan, 2009). Such use of nitrogen fertilizers combined with byproducts of combustion (from vehicles, factories or power plants) has produced large amounts of nitrogen to the atmosphere. This nitrogen can easily change to reactive forms like ammonia. Such nitrogen forms find their way into water sources far away from the original production sight. This then affects marine world and wildlife by creating dead zones through depleting oxygen. Such effects of nitrogen should make the world cautious when investing in nitrogen compounds.
Apart from nature, the research proves that nitrogen compounds also affect human life (Irfan and Climate Wire, 2012). These compounds can result in birth defects and cancer. Nitrogen oxide from vehicles, for instance, affects the ozone layer and produce small particles in the atmosphere, which make breathing difficult. These direct effects of nitrogen compounds threaten the existence of humanity and are the reason enough for caution.
Even more so, the shift of global weather patterns risks is worsening the effects of nitrogen in the world that are already devastating. According to Davidson, (Irfan and Climate Wire, 2012), this could lead to the difficulty in nutrient management. In addition, factors like extreme weather could make it more difficult to raise crops and, thus, lead to the increased use of the nitrogen based fertilizers. This highlights the need to adopt other fertilizers rather than nitrogen based ones.
On the other hand, the use of nitrogen compounds may have positive effects on the environment. Nitrates, for instance, have some cooling effects on the climate. Other nitrogen compounds trap heat and make it remain in the upper atmosphere. They also may form clouds that are capable of reflecting radiation rays back into space (Hoggan, 2009). It means that policies on nitrogen management should be guided by both negative and positive effects.
In conclusion, the world should adopt a proactive stance towards management of nitrogen compounds rather than wait and react to the adverse effects. The policies should be adopted on how to stop the time bomb formed by the nitrogen emissions.
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