The Price Of Nitrogen Pollution Exceeds 300 Billion Per Year Across Europe

Top Quote Nitrogen pollution is damaging water, health, wildlife and the climate at an enormous cost. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) April 20, 2011 - A new report has revealed that nitrogen pollution across Europe is costing between 150 and 750 per person, per year. Nitrogen pollution is said to be more dangerous than carbon in its contribution to climate change and in shortening the average human life span by six months.

    The European Nitrogen Assessment, which collected data from 200 scientists in 21 countries, revealed the main contributor to nitrogen pollution is farming. Agriculture is reportedly responsible for a massive 70% of all nitrous oxide in Europe. Reactive nitrogen from uncovered manure stocks causes pollution in addition to another major contributor - the excess use of nitrogen fertiliser. Mark Sutton from the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology has stated that '80% of the nitrogen in crops feeds livestock, not people.' Up to 50% of the nitrogen used in fertilizer also leaks into the surrounding environment which promotes algae growth. Nitrates in water are detrimental to health causing repercussions such as cancer and asthma.

    Governments are calling for people to eat less meat in a bid to reduce nitrogen pollution. 'Meat free Mondays' are one idea, calling for people to adopt a demitarian diet. A strictly vegetarian diet is not stated as being necessary but reducing meat intake will help reduce nitrogen pollution caused by livestock farming. Precision farming has also been suggested, using computerized nitrogen distribution to lower pollution levels.

    A tax on nitrogen based fertilizers has been rejected due to the repercussions it would have on the food market. Taxing fertilizer will increase the price of food which would be passed on to the consumer and as such has been abandoned.

    It's not all bad news however. In the UK alone nitrous oxide has been reduced by 60% since 1990 and nitro fertilizers have lowered by 20% since 1998. The increased use of cars has however offset these beneficial figures, further showing the importance of lift sharing or cycling to work.

    It has been noted that it will be costly to lower nitrogen pollution but the effects of rectifying the situation will be greatly outweighed by the monetary benefits solutions will accrue. Energy efficient homes, lift sharing and the use of public transport, in addition to lowering long distance travel will further aid reactive nitrogen reduction.

    This problem exists worldwide, and particularly across developing nations raised awareness would help to preclude further environmental damage.

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