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Artificial Chemical Nitrogen Exposed as the Criminal It Really Is

I know an article is really important if it gets emailed to me by more than one person. A recent article that appeared on Grist.org was sent to me many times by many people, and I must share it with you and explain its significance.

In Organic Manifesto, I talk a lot about how chemical agriculture destroys the soil—and more important, the soil’s natural ability to store carbon (and some would say that soil’s purpose is to store carbon). It’s possible that all the carbon dioxide we have thrust into the air is staying up there and causing all sorts of climate chaos BECAUSE the soil is losing its ability to do what it was meant to do, absorb and store carbon.

I report in my book about how agricultural chemicals kill the living organisms in the soil that are responsible for doing this important work. But until I saw this article, I assumed that this was probably more due to herbicides and fungicides than to fertilizer (although the toxicity of fertilizer creation and distribution alone is enough to mark it as a criminal).

Now we’re learning that synthetic, artificial, chemical nitrogen fertilizer is not only a huge problem because it destroys the health of soil, but it’s also responsible for unleashing NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) into the atmosphere—which is apparently 300 times more powerful as a “greenhouse gas” than CO2.

This article, by Tom Philpott
, is a must-read. What is ironic is that, just like tobacco, scientists knew about this problem as far back as the 1930s—but in our rush to adopt “new technology,” we often ignore the voices of caution and race blindly towards our own destruction.

Fortunately, there is a solution that works, and works well: organic agriculture.

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7 Responses to Artificial Chemical Nitrogen Exposed as the Criminal It Really Is

  1. Roger L Whited March 6, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    Am I one of the first ten to log on to this site and I hope it is the one for the free Organic Manifesto? I have spent 3/4 hour or more negotiating the site and re reading my new OG Apr/may.. an I hope I have logged on ok.. Where do I go if I didn’t get the right answers down.. i am a novice on this comp’tr language… thank u so very much if I am…Roger L Whited.

  2. Maya March 6, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    That’s a great article–and it shows yet another problem solved by going organic!

  3. maria (farm country kitchen) March 6, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    Hi Roger!

    I think you are talking about the contest with Organic Gardening Magazine and my book, Organic Manifesto on Facebook. Unfortunately you missed it! But of course my book will be available in stores on March 16th, and you can pre-order it on any online book retailer.

    Welcome to cyberspace!

    Maria

  4. Nancy March 8, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Kudos to you for addressing soil contamination! I This is a topic that has been widely understated in our country, yet it has been a problem for decades in our nation and for thousands of years in ancient civilizations who have perished through their own poor use and responsiblity of their soils. Today’s culture is aggressively speeding up the process by allowing our soils to become contaminated by chemicals from the farming and comericial industries. But what may surprise many folks is that the average person living in a house within a neighborhood or suburb is also contributing to the problem. Our lawns demand constant irrigation and fertilizer to keep our grass green. Developers have already stripped the moisture retaining top soil from our yards and when these landscapes have been completed what is left is a few trees, ornamental shrubs strategically placed in front of the house, and a few perennials, the rest is sodded. Only a small percentage of rain is actually used in today’s landscaped yard, the rest runs off into our streets and sewers with it bringing the chemicals that have not been taken in by our grass and plants. The chemicals cannot be taken in when the soils under them do not have the adequate humus to receive them. Furthermore, the chemicals that are used are actually destroying insects who naturally build up the soils nutrients this results in more and more chemicals needed to satisfy the nutrient-deficient plants. Its a vicious cycle. The water run off from our neighborhoods is causing havoc on our waterways and on aquatic life. Suburban neighborhoods have the second-highest water run-off occurance! This is behind large urban cities with concrete as their base. Run-off from agriculture, which we hear so much about, accounts for less run-off than our neighborhoods. Let’s pro-actively change this!! It starts with education. Thanks for your posts, and for not shying away from serious issues!

  5. Rog.popaspepprsnatur;ly April 28, 2010 at 6:02 pm #

    I am amazed that the city councils do not look upon these newly developed housing areas with all their parking lots of the large malls in the area! The water run off is multiplied by how much ground has been covered over, thus rural or neighborhood flooding! YES NANCY,, U are more than correct, RIGHT ON. Robert Rodale in O.G., published results of tests on pavement using chem. fertilizers. I believe there were three plots.1. fertilized.2. no fertilizer but the grass mowed was collected. 3. the final one was mulched and the grass allowed to drop in to the lawn! NOW remember that all were on concrete and all received the same watering. the lawn that was mulched was the best in the display because the commercial fertilizer had not stopped the natural chemical actions of the bacterial decay of the mulched blades!!!! I have been doing this for my lawn ever sense!! and I also collect the over growth if delayed by rain to place on my garden vegi’es! Even so last year it was so cool I had no production(may1pln’t’ng, Nebr.) so this year from used asphalt shingles(black side up) I hope to heat the ground to regain my production…popaspeppers thank you…!!!

  6. Rog.popaspepprsnatur;ly May 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm #

    SOMETIME around 1954 the U S D A, had to opportunity to go to chemicals that the huge companies were selling. The promise of more control over the farming operations of the farmer thru chemicals, insect control, more production, less hours spent farming, more business opportunities.. and the list goes on.. So the farmers chose to go chemical to increase all of the above.What the city INHABITANTS did not know was that the average farmer with a hired hand on 80 acres put in about 14-16 hours a day with no coffee breaks.! Then the change!. He needed more production in order to stay on the land, thus more chemicals, more farm hands, bigger machines. when there were no farm hands. This has been amplified to the extent that one farmer, agra-producer now has more than a million $ or close to it invested in his farm equipment, to work thousands of acres( with pivot irrigation if the lower waters are available), still putting in 14-16 hours a day!!! this the farmer in these U S A is the most productive of all the world. ONE FEEDING HUNDREDS, AND HAVING SURPLUSES!!!!.. Now…so that he does not get left in the dust with the NEW of this age he sends his sons and daughters to college, universities to get degrees(MASTERS & PHD’S) in AGRICULTURE!!! NOW they are using GPS, DEVICES AND MORE ACCURATE SPRAY AND FERTILIZER APPLICATORS AND POSITIVE SEED PLACEMENT, TO STAY IN BUSINESS. AND SPECIALIZING IN ANIMAL HUSBANDRY , VETERINARY PRACTICES ! . AS NOW THAT WE REALIZE OF THE YEARS OUR EDUCATORS TAUGHT ANTI GOVERNMENT CLASSES THE AMOUNT OF RE-EDUCATION WE HAVE BEFORE US!!!!!, We must present to our MOST INDEPENDENT AND DEMOCRATIC , HIGHLY EDUCATED AMONG US ….THE FARMER …THE EVIDENCE THAT REMOVING THESE PRODUCTION ENHANCING CHEMICALS IS A MUST FOR SURVIVAL.. BUT… BUT WE MUST SHOW THAT WE CAN LIVE WITH OUT THE CHEMICALS IN FAVOR OF MORE NATURAL REMEDIES TO HELP CONTINUE THEIR PROFITABILITY>>>>>>>>>

  7. Justin J November 4, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Its downright criminal when you realize conventional food is sorely lacking in many of the trace minerals necessary for sustained health. Clearly its down to the soil and the destroyed life giving properties of of it due to chemical fertilizers.

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