2012-04-20. Food for thought on greenhouse gas emissions

posted May 22, 2012, 1:38 PM by Lisa Ou   [ updated May 22, 2012, 1:39 PM ]
 | by Rachel Berkowitz, PhysicsToday. An article relevant to GSS Population Growth chapter 5. Excerpt: The third highest greenhouse gas contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide and methane, N2O is the most potent of the three gases because it's a better absorber of IR radiation. We humans generate 6 million metric tons of nitrogen as N2O emissions, and 10 billion metric tons of carbon as CO2, per year. But it's going to be tricky to reduce N2O emissions, as food production processes have been accelerating to feed Earth’s growing human population, which is currently at 7 billion. The nitrogen-use efficiency of crops is far from perfect, and efficiency is further reduced when crops are used as animal feed. Eric Davidson, president and a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, ... calculated that to stabilize atmospheric N2O concentrations at 345 ppb, people would need to reduce both their meat consumption and industry emissions by 50%... lends new value to Albert Einstein’s observation that “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."…. Read the full article: http://www.physicstoday.org/daily_edition/down_to_earth/food_for_thought_on_greenhouse_gas_emissions