Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

Earth on Fire: The Overheating Planet

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NOTE ON POPULAR POSTS

The reason some popular posts are tagged ‘no title’ is not because they have no title—they all do—but because the old Blogger embedded the title at the top of text, and the new software does not see that. You can see the titles in capitals at the start of each snippet. (It would be nice if Blogger introduced an upgrade program that could fix this little problem.)

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Monday, 19 May 2008

REACTIVE NITROGEN AS SERIOUS AS CO2?

ScienceDaily reports the growing alarm among scientists at the increase in the environment of reactive nitrogen, which may be as serious a problem for the human race as the growing concentration of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere.

In its inert form, nitrogen is harmless and abundant, making up 78 percent of the Earth's atmosphere. But in the past century, with the mass production of nitrogen-based fertilisers and the large-scale burning of fossil fuels, massive amounts of reactive nitrogen compounds, such as ammonia, have entered the environment.

A nitrogen atom that starts out as part of a smog-forming compound may be deposited in lakes and forests as nitric acid, which can kill fish and insects. Carried out to the coast, the same nitrogen atom may contribute to red tides and dead zones. Finally, the nitrogen will be put back into the atmosphere as part of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, which destroys atmospheric ozone.