The findings are results of a study by Dr. Eric Davidson and are published today in IOP Publishing’s Environmental Research Letters. Dr. Davidson, who is President and a Senior Scientist at the Woods Hold Research Center in Massachusetts, demonstrates the magnitude of changes needed to stabilize N2O concentrations in the atmosphere.
N2O is the third highest contributor to climate change behind carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4); however, it poses a greater challenge for mitigation since nitrogen is an essential element for food production. It is also the most potent of these three greenhouse gases, as it is a much better absorber of infrared radiation. But total anthropogenic emissions are about 6 million metric tons of nitrogen as N2O, compared to 10 billion metric tons of carbon as CO2.
The main sources of N2O in the atmosphere are due to the spreading of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers onto agricultural soils and the use and storage of livestock manure. The nitrogen contained in fertilizers and manure is broken down by microbes that live in the soil and released into the atmosphere as N2O. In order to reduce emissions, it will be necessary to apply certain changes to the food production process.
Dr. Davidson believes that this can be achieved through improved management of fertilizer and manure sources, as well as through reduction of the developed world’s per capita meat consumption that will relieve pressure on fertilizer demand and reduce growth in the amount of manure being produced. “We have the technical know-how and the tools to greatly improve efficiencies of fertilizer use in agriculture,” states Davidson, “although several economic and political impediments often stand in the way of their adoption.”
In a draft of the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, four scenarios, known as representative concentration pathways (RCPs), have been adopted, and these represent possible means of reductions for a number of greenhouse gases. Dr. Davidson evaluated the scale of changes needed to meet the predicted N2O pathways.
Three of the IPCC’s less aggressive scenarios could be met by reducing meat consumption, improving agricultural practices, or reducing emissions from industry. The most aggressive scenario, where atmospheric N2O concentrations stabilize by 2050, can only be met if a 50 percent reduction, or improvement, is achieved for each of the above.
To make these calculations, Dr. Davidson relied on data provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization, which assume that the global population will increase to 8.9 billion by 2050 and the daily calorific intake per capita will increase to 3130 kcal. They also assume that the average meat consumption of each person in the developed world will rise from 78 kg per year in 2002 to 89 kg per year in 2030 and from 28 kg per year in 2002 to 37 kg per year for each person in the developing world.
Assessing the likelihood of reducing meat consumption in the developed world by 50 percent, Davidson said, “If you had asked me 30 years ago if smoking would be banned in bars, I would have laughed and said that would be impossible in my lifetime, and yet it has come true. Similarly, there would be beneficial health benefits for most Americans and western Europeans to stop ‘supersizing’ and rather to reduce portion sizes of red meat.”
Are such changes possible for diet? “That will depend,” says Davidson, “not only on education about diet, but also on prices of meat. Some agricultural economists think that the price of meat is going to go way up, so that per capita consumption will go down, but those are highly uncertain projections.”
MediaFor more information, links to videos, technical reports and presentations please visit: http://www.whrc.org/global/nitrogen/index.html
Environmental Research Letters Environmental Research Letters is an open access journal that covers all of environmental science, providing a coherent and integrated approach including research articles, perspectives and editorials.
Ian Vorster | Newswise Science News
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.
To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
28.03.2017 | Life Sciences
28.03.2017 | Information Technology
28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy