Friday, March 26, 2010

Peak Phosphorus

Peak Phosporus: Opportunity in the Making

Not only is the Nitrogen cycle critical for our survival AND disturbed in a way where it is out of control - the same applies to phosporus. A recent report from the iisd demonstrates how fragile our existence on this planet is when it comes to the handling of this essential makro nutrient:

"The long-term security of our global food and water supplies may be impacted by the mismanagement of our phosphorus nutrient resources. Essential to plant growth and all life, phosphorus is mined from rock phosphate deposits and synthesized into mineral fertilizers destined for agricultural fields. Easily mined rock phosphate reserves are dwindling and the constraints this could place on fertilizer production pose risks to our long-term ability to feed the planet. Excess phosphorus from agricultural fields runs off the landscape and eventually gets flushed into the ocean, where it takes millions of years to mineralize. Under the right conditions, phosphorus loads can choke water bodies as algae rapidly grow, die and decompose, depriving lakes, rivers, streams and coastal waters of oxygen. This process, referred to as eutrophication, threatens the security of our freshwater supplies and aquatic ecosystems. Phosphorus is fundamental to long-term food security, yet we mismanage it, allowing excess phosphorus to imperil our water resources. Closing the loop on our food systems and moving toward phosphorus independence are crucial to ensuring the long-term security of our food and water supplies. Treating phosphorus as a finite resource shifts our management paradigm from mitigating a noxious substance to recovering and recycling a precious element."

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