A lecture on ‘The impact of agriculture on air quality and climate: Is Nitrogen The Next Carbon?’ was organised on 16th November 2015 at the TU campus and Dr. Viney Aneja, a visiting faculty from NC State University was the speaker.
Agricultural air quality is an important emerging area of environmental science, which offers significant challenges to many aspects of research, policy and regulatory frameworks.
Dr Aneja explained that the agricultural emissions produce significant local, regional and global impacts, such as odor, Particulate Matter (PM) exposure, eutrophication, acidification, climate, exposure to toxics, and pathogens. Excess reactive nitrogen threatens the quality of air, soil, and water; with implications for human health and the environment. It also contributes to the global problems caused by nitrous oxide greenhouse gas emissions. Agricultural emissions are variable in space and time.
Most important in the US are ammonia (where agriculture accounts for ~90% of total emissions), reduced sulfur (unquantified), PM2.5 (~16%), PM10 (~18%), methane (29%), nitrous oxide (72%); and odor and emissions of pathogens (both unquantified).
Reactive nitrogen inputs in India and the world have been increasing, largely due to human activities associated with food production and fossil fuel combustion.
Despite the obvious benefits of a plentiful supply of food and energy, the adverse consequences associated with the accumulation of reactive nitrogen in the environment are large. Nitrogen pollution poses an even greater challenge than carbon, because once a new reactive nitrogen molecule is created, it can, in sequence, travel throughout the environment contributing to major environmental problems i.e. the nitrogen cascade.
Dr Aneja emphasized on the need for an integrated nitrogen management strategy and new policies that cover these concerns; while simultaneously challenging the scientific community to continue quantifying the benefits of nitrogen mitigation.