University of Virginia scientists and several other collaborators from as far away as the Netherlands launched the N-Print website last week as part of the International Nitrogen Initiative.
The website has an interactive calculator that determines your nitrogen footprint, but ultimately it helps people understand nitrogen’s role in the environment.
The INI sites that the post-industrial world, with mass farming and fertilizing, has upset the natural nitrogen balance, which can cause “the eutrophication of coastal ecosystems, the acidification of forests, soils and freshwater streams and lakes and losses of biodiversity. In the form of nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, nitrogen contributes to global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion.”
It sounds scary, but not all is lost; the N-Print website points out some easy ways that everyone can cut down on their nitrogen uses – especially when it comes to food consumption, which contributes more than any other sector to nitrogen emissions.
The INI hopes that, through education, the public will take small steps to reduce their impact and begin to solve the nitrogen dilemma.