Are you looking for something to flagellate yourself over? Carbon footprints are last week’s news: The new hot subject for self-recrimination is your nitrogen footprint. According to the International Nitrogen Initiative, your nitrogen consumption is contributing to a host of environmental ills:
Today, reactive nitrogen has dramatically increased in our air and water. It comes primarily from agricultural activities such as fertilizer use and manure runoff, and the burning of fossil fuels. This “nitrogen pollution” causes profound environmental impacts, including smog, acid rain, forest dieback, coastal ‘dead zones’, biodiversity loss, stratospheric ozone depletion and increased greenhouse gases. It also affects human health, including respiratory disease and an increased risk for birth defects.
If you want to wallow in shame over being a nitrogen hog, the INI’s online calculator will tell you all about how naughty you are. You enter details about your home energy use, transportation habits, and food consumption, and the calculator will tell you how your nitrogen footprint stacks up to the average for your country. It’ll also tell you how to reduce your contribution to nitrogen pollution, assuming you aren’t now crying under a desk somewhere.
For the scientifically-minded, here’s a video on how nitrogen affects the environment: