One of the biggest modern day threats to our ozone layer is something we’ve largely overlooked for decades: nitrous oxide. It’s also something we can’t feed ourselves without producing.
By Kaleigh Rogers|MOTHERBOARD
David Kanter is a postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University’s Earth Institute who has spent his academic career researching nitrous oxide’s impact on the ozone layer and what humans can do to reduce our N2O emissions. Most recently, he’s looked at the potential economic benefits of stricter environmental regulations to industries that many would assume would suffer under new rules, including companies that produce synthetic nitrogen fertilizers used in food production.
“There have already been lots of people who have argued that controlling nitrogen is good from an environmental perspective and from the farmers’ perspectives because they can save money,” Kanter told me last week, after presenting some of his most recent research at a Columbia symposium on sustainable development. “No one has yet really looked at the fertilizer industry case. Can you imagine such a case where you can get the environmental benefits, the farmers’ savings, and the industry profits?”