04 Jul '18, 2am

Can the World Find Solutions to the Nitrogen Pollution Crisis?

Her data show a clear sign of what economists call the environmental Kuznets curve. The Russian-American, Nobel Prize-winning economist Simon Kuznets argued that as countries industrialize and grow wealthy, the efficiency with which they use natural resources shows a common pattern. They begin in a cheap-and-dirty way, with terrible resource efficiency. But gradually, as pollution and other downsides of this inefficiency increase, they invest in doing things better. Eventually, at least for some materials, efficiency gains exceed rising demand for the products being produced. At that point, economies can start to “dematerialize,” as Rockefeller University futurologist Jesse Ausubel has put it. In most rich countries, use of agricultural nitrogen shows this curve. The NUE of American and European farms deteriorated until around 1970, as farmers poured on more fertilizer. Bu...

Full article: https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-the-world-find-solutio...

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