A decline in nitrogen levels might seem like a good thing, but it all depends on where in the world you are, according to recent research. This is a severe problem for plants in the wild, as the increase in carbon dioxide levels means they need greater access to nitrogen deposits.
While nitrogen is an essential element for plant growth and fertiliser, its overuse has led to filtration through streams and bodies of water. This has resulted in low-oxygen dead zones, and harmful algae bloom in a process called eutrophication. Now the evidence suggests that nitrogen is being diluted faster than ever because of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. All good for plants in contact with humans, where nitrates can be supplied artificially. But for plants in the wild, this is a severe problem.
On top of this, of course, is the fast rate of global warming, which also contributes to plant growth. These shifts in planetary conditions have created an unnatural greenhouse effect that slowly changes our natural landscape. While these plants can capture much of the atmospheric carbon dioxide, slowing the rate of warming, the imbalance in nitrogen is preventing further growth.
If this all sounds complicated, that’s because it is. The same research suggests that there is not enough understanding of how to manage nitrogen levels globally. Our efforts at increasing nitrogen levels and global warming have unbalanced a natural ecosystem. Currently, efforts are being made to better understand the natural cycle of nitrogen, creating a more accurate map for scientists and decision-makers.
Want to help balance natural nitrogen levels and help your local topsoil? Plant natives in your garden, use natural fertilisers or none at all and make an effort to reduce your CO2 emissions to conserve energy.
Source: Science Daily
About the author - meet Earthan James McCulloch
James is a literary student and environmental enthusiast who likes thinking about the better futures we could have (and those we best avoid). When not playing with other people’s dogs or taking long, mindful walks, he’s usually found reading and writing, often at the local library. You can check him out on his blog for something a little different, where he talks about all things literary or otherwise.