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13th June 2024 (13 Topics)

Rising Nitrous Oxide Emissions

Context

A recent report highlights the sharp increase in nitrous oxide emissions from agricultural activities. Nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, is being emitted at alarming rates due to the use of chemical fertilizers and animal waste on croplands.

Key Findings:

  • Surging Emissions: Between 1980 and 2020, nitrous oxide emissions soared by 40%, primarily driven by the intensified use of chemical fertilizers and animal waste in agriculture.
  • Top Emitters: Countries like China, India, and the US are among the top 10 emitters of nitrous oxide. Brazil, Russia, Pakistan, Australia, Indonesia, Turkey, and Canada also contribute significantly to these emissions.
  • Rapid Increase in Nitrogen Fertilizers: The use of commercial nitrogen fertilizers has seen a dramatic rise, from 60 million metric tonnes in 1980 to 107 million metric tonnes in 2020.
    • Additionally, animal manure contributed 101 million metric tonnes in 2020, resulting in a combined usage of 208 million metric tonnes.

Fact Box: About Nitrous Oxide (N20)

  • Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas or happy gas, is a colorless, non-flammable gas.
  • Nitrous oxide is a highly potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential approximately 300 times greater than CO2.
  • It poses severe consequences for the environment and human health.
    • Environmental Impact: Soil, water, and air pollution. It also contributes to ozone layer depletion and exacerbates climate change. One pound of N2O warms the atmosphere about 300 times the amount that one pound of carbon dioxide does over a 100 year timescale.
    • Health Risks: Paralysis and even death.

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