Solving the Nutrient Crisis

  April 13, 2022   Read time 1 min
Solving the Nutrient Crisis
There is no answer to the challenges outlined in this chapter other than for humanity to wake up to the fact that it confronts a global nutrient crisis at least as serious for its future as the much more widely discussed issues of water scarcity, peak oil, and climate change.

The greatest obstacles to this awakening at the moment are public lack of awareness and po liti cal apathy over the gravity of the situation. A good start would be for every nation to commit to a plan for nutrient conservation and recycling

* ending or greatly reducing all forms of soil erosion,
• recycling nutrients within the farming system on a substantial scale,
• eliminating fertilizer subsidies, which promote wasteful use, and introducing incentives to conserve nutrients,
launching national campaigns to sharply reduce the waste of food throughout the food chain from farm to consumer,
• designing dietary campaigns to reduce the proportion of meat and dairy in the diet,
• funding a massive research effort on ways to conserve, recycle, and reuse nutrients all along the food chain, on a scale similar to the research effort now being put into clean energy,
• implementing plans to compost all organic urban waste and put it back into the food cycle,
• developing improved technologies to harvest nutrients from waste streams,
• harvesting urban sewage sludge and incorporating it (suitably purified) into fertilizers for use on farms or in urban horticulture or biocultures,
• separating urine, which is high in both N and P, from other wastes for conversion to fertilizer, and
• replacing water- based toilets with composting designs as part of a nutrient recycling system.
Such mea sures must then be built into a global agreement akin to the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change or the Montreal Protocol on ozone depletion.

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