The Chesapeake Bay watershed. Image from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Nitrogen pollution from fertilizer runoff is one of the main sources of low oxygen “dead zones” in the Chesapeake Bay. And it’s a problem throughout the world, as the modern agriculture that sustains human life is itself dependent on commercially-produced nitrogen fertilizers.
“Humans have nearly doubled Earth’s natural flow of fixed nitrogen, overwhelming the capacity of ecosystems to remove it,” this fascinating story from Grist says. “The resulting buildup is poisoning the planet’s waterways, creating a crisis some consider even more threatening than the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”
But a budding business backed by some big-name billionaires and other startups are banking on a bacterial solution: a liquid probiotic to be applied as seeds are planted.
“If this solution proves out, it would clean up the pollution choking the planet’s life support systems, without forcing widespread famine and a return to the nitrogen wars,” the article says.
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