New tool helps citizens reduce nitrogen load on Chesapeake Bay

"Consumers need to understand that food choices, like other individual actions, do have environmental consequences," said Beth McGee, director of science and agricultural policy at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Brooks Hays
A bird's-eye view of a massive algal bloom growing in James River near near its mouth in the Chesapeake Bay. Photo by Wolfgang K. Vogelbein/Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Scientists have developed a new tool to help citizens do their part to reduce the amount of nitrogen flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.
Nitrogen is the main catalyst of algal blooms, which can release harmful toxins and suck large amounts of oxygen from the water, triggering mass die-offs of fish and other marine organisms.
Most of the nitrogen flowing into the Chesapeake watershed comes from fertilizer runoff on large farms, but a significant portion comes from air pollution as a result of burning fossil fuels.
The latest research offers citizens a way to calculate their "nitrogen footprint" and offers suggestions on how to curb their footprint by making lifestyle changes.
"Food production, particularly of meat products, is responsible for more nitrogen emissions than any other sector," James Galloway, an environmental economist at Virginia, said in a news release. "The typical U.S. citizen consumes roughly 30 percent more protein than he or she needs."
The nitrogen footprint calculator developed by Galloway and his colleagues suggests significant nitrogen reductions could be had if everyone living in the Chesapeake watershed consumed only the recommended amount of meat.
Diet isn't the only factor that determines a person's nitrogen footprint. Landscaping, energy use and other factors also play a role.
Though lifestyle changes may take a bit more of a commitment, calculating a person's nitrogen footprint only takes about five minutes.
"We are not suggesting that people become vegetarians, but we believe consumers need to understand that food choices, like other individual actions, do have environmental consequences, and to recognize that slight changes in our behavior, if adopted on a wide scale, could make a difference for the bay and our rivers and streams," said Beth McGee, director of science and agricultural policy at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
The calculator is currently available online.
New tool helps citizens reduce nitrogen load on Chesapeake Bay Reviewed by Bizpodia on 03:06 Rating: 5

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