# U$ecology dramatically altered by fertilizers and acid rain... Discussion in 'Earth Science' started by wet1, Jan 27, 2002. 1. ### wet1WandererRegistered Senior Member Messages: 8,616 A NASA-funded study of ancient and unpolluted South American forests promises to upend longstanding beliefs about ecosystems and the effects of pollution in the Northern Hemisphere. The study, published in the Jan. 24 issue of Nature, focused on nitrogen, a plant nutrient that plays a critical role in maintaining everything from the health of local waterways to the global climate. The study finds high levels of inorganic nitrogen in the United States, long thought to be the natural mainstay of the ecosystem, are really the result of acid rain and agricultural fertilizers. The authors argue that the ecosystems of South America, with their preponderance of organic nitrogen, are a window into the past, showing that U.$. ecosystems were very different before the industrial revolution.

Ecologists previously thought that nitrogen-containing minerals,
referred to collectively as inorganic nitrogen, have always been the dominant nutrient in forests worldwide. The study of South American forests, however, showed a sharply different picture: complex, organic compounds are the main form of nitrogen in unpolluted ecosystems.

"We traveled in time by traveling to South America," said Lars Hedin, a co-author of the study and a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University.

The information they uncovered could have far-reaching impacts in many areas of ecology, from predicting the pace of global climate change to understanding the consequences of acid rain and agricultural run-off.

"Nitrogen is a sort of master variable," said Steve Perakis, the
paper's lead author and a research scientist with the U.$. Geological Survey. "If we don't get the fundamental elements of the nitrogen cycle right, we can't answer many other ecological questions." The findings raise questions about our understanding of global warming, which is partly caused by fossil fuel burning and increasing levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. When trees grow and mature they remove carbon dioxide from the air. The ability of trees to grow and absorb more carbon is intimately related to the availability of nitrogen. The remote areas of Chile and Argentina provided prime areas for conducting the research. In North America the ground is tainted with large amounts of inorganic nitrogen from widespread use of nitrogen-heavy fertilizers, as well as acid rain brought on by fossil fuel burning. In the South American areas the researchers studied, there is no fertilizer use and almost no influx of fossil fuel emissions. To reach their conclusions, the scientists spent five years preparing experiments in remote Chilean temperate forests and another five years conducting detailed analyses of water in those forests. They also conducted one-time tests in a dozen other remote areas in Chile and Argentina to prove that the preponderance of organic nitrogen they observed was not unique to the site they were studying. At the same time, they repeated their measurements in three U.$. virgin forests, two in the Smokey Mountains and one in Pennsylvania. All of the areas studied contained unlogged primary forests, in ecosystems
that have developed in place for 4,000 years to over 20,000 years.

The results also suggest that in North America the impact of nitrogen pollution from acid rain and agriculture may be more dramatic in years to come than previously thought. That's because North American forests are still young, after recovering from past logging and agricultural clear-cutting. Young trees use nitrogen from the soil for growth, but as they mature, they sequester less nitrogen from the environment. When that happens, more inorganic nitrogen will be available to run off into rivers and groundwater.

Another interesting finding, said Perakis, was that the nitrogen
cycle -- the way nitrogen compounds are exchanged between plants, soil, waterways and the atmosphere -- in South America is more uniform than it is in the United States. "We found that even though there were some noticeable variations in South America, they were pretty small compared to the variations caused by air pollution. We live in a transient world, a world that's changing because of many human activities, so many systems are responding in unique ways."

Perakis' work was funded by a NASA Earth System Science Fellowship.
The overall project was funded by grants from the Andrew Mellon
Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

Contact:

Cynthia O'Carroll
NASA Goddard
Space Flight
Center
Phone: 301/614-5563

Steven Schultz
Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.
Phone: 609/258-5729

Ruth Jacobs
U.S. Geological Survey,
Corvallis, Ore.
Phone: 541/750-7304

http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/news-release/releases/2002/02-023.htm

Universal Citizen
Universal EarthStar Space Avatar

3. ### Mr. Greality.sysValued Senior Member

Messages:
5,109
Umm, Europe's ecology hasn't been severely altered by the construction of structures for human habitation and for the logisitical support of their inhabitants: power plants, factories, roads, parking lots, garbage dumps, churches, etc?

So, what you're saying is that us excess food-producing nations should cease reliance on fertilizers and herbicides, so as to save the environment, while people in food-deficient nations -- who otherwise would be eating our excess food -- die rather more quickly of starvation instead of eventual toxic poisoning?

Ah. I see. Sacrfice some so that the majority may live. I can buy into that, maybe.

5. ### TruthSeekerFancy Virtual Reality MonkeyValued Senior Member

Messages:
15,162
Mr G,

The food never (or almost never) goes to those countries... It's usually go to make Americans even more fat...

Besides that, if we don't take care of our planet, who will? Are you saying that you rather destroy the planet to produce an unhealthy food with lots of fertilizers and herbicides than producing healthy food WITHOUT fertilizers? This doesn't make any sense...

Love,
Nelson

7. ### goofyfishAnalog By Birth, Digital By DesignValued Senior Member

Messages:
5,331

Even though I know you abhor facts, I'm forced to throw some at you anyway. The following sampling of food-related export information for 2000/2001 is available from the U.S. Commercial Service Website, located here. Select a country then choose option 5: "Leading Sectors for Us Exports and Investments"

Bahrain
600 Metric Tons of Poultry
150 Metric Tons of Beef

Vietnam
10,000 Metric Tons of Soybeans
20,000 Metric Tons of Soybean Meal
45,000 Metric Tons of Wheat
35,000 Dairy Cows
200,000 Pigs
1,450,000 Chickens

Korea
70,000 Metric Tons of Poultry
110,000 Metric Tons of Beef
115,000 Metric Tons of Citrus Fruit
90,000 Metric Tons of Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables
80,000 Metric Tons of Seafood

Israel
950,000 Metric Tons of Wheat
7,000 Metric Tons of Tree Nuts

Dominican Republic
300,000 Metric Tons of Wheat
361,000 Metric Tons of Soybean Meal
975,000 Metric Tons of Corn
70,000 Metric Tons of Rice

Honduras
130,000 Metric Tons of Corn
155,000 Metric Tons of Wheat
79,000 Metric Tons of Soybean Meal
60,000 Metric Tons of Rice

These figures do not even include recent relief efforts by government, corporate and charitable organizations involving India, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, The Federated States of Micronesia and others. Please take a moment to think before you post statements like these.

Peace.

8. ### wet1WandererRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
8,616
Well, this is a complete change of subject.

It started as a post about pollution and turns into a foodfight. Oh well, if you guys want to argue about that. Guess the pollution is a big problem on this Planet now-a-days. Humans should take better care of their natural environment and try to stop this crap. If they only could stop their consumption behaviour and have a little more respect for Nature, it would change a lot. Even their attitude on which food products to use and how to share it with others, as they should share their good will with others...

9. ### justagirlRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
334
This is where men really scare me as most are ready to live and let die. They think ohhh no way it would hurt me in my lifetime, lets go ahead and screw this up some more. I should have added this on my legalize pot thread as Hemp per acre yields 3 times more usable forest as trees and we can let the trees live and help clean up this mess

10. ### TruthSeekerFancy Virtual Reality MonkeyValued Senior Member

Messages:
15,162
The interesting fact is that the US fought in many of these countries...

Even destroyed a whole ecosystem in one of them...

Banshee is right... let's get back to pollution...
Let war and food in other thread...

Yes...
I don't know why people like to have so many things, so many possessions. That's even an illness with some people...

Nature is beautiful... why "we" don't care about it...?

Love,
Nelson

Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2004
11. ### EduferTired warriorRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
791
Organic and Inorganic nitrogen?

quote: <b>Truthseeker: </b><i>"Besides that, if we don't take care of our planet, who will? Are you saying that you rather destroy the planet to produce <b>an unhealthy food</b> with lots of fertilizers and herbicides than producing <b>healthy food </b>WITHOUT fertilizers? This doesn't make any sense... "</i>

<center><B>TABLE 1<BR><BR>YIELD COMPARISONS OF LETTUCE PRODUCTION <br><font size=2>(Total production per suare meter, per year)<br><br></center>
<br><br>Please go down the page to find the Table: there is a problem with the HTML code that puts a lot of empty space before the Table... sorry for that.

<TABLE width="80%" border="1" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="4" bgcolor="#acc6c6" bordercolor="#ff0000">
<TR>
<TD bgcolor="#ffff00" align="center">
<B>
Production method
</B>
</TD>
<TD bgcolor="#ffff00" align="center">
<B>
</B>
</TD>
<TD bgcolor="#ffff00" align="center">
<B>
Fresh weight of lettuce heads (kg)
</B>
</TD>
<TD bgcolor="#ffff00" align="center">
</B>
</TD>
</TR>
<TR>
<TD align="left">
Soil, outdoors
</TD>
<TD align="center">
40
</TD>
<TD align="center">
8
</TD>
</TR>
<TR>
<TD align="left">
Soil, greenhouse, no heating
</TD>
<TD align="center">
80
</TD>
<TD align="center">
12
</TD>
</TR>
<TR>
<TD align="left">
Soil, greenhouse, with heat
</TD>
<TD align="center">
120
</TD>
<TD align="center">
18
</TD>
</TR>
<TR>
<TD align="left">
Hydroponic greenhouse
</TD>
<TD align="center">
150
</TD>
<TD align="center">
22
</TD>
</TR>
<TR>
<TD align="left">
1-dimensional spacing
</TD>
<TD align="center">
360
</TD>
<TD align="center">
54
</TD>
</TR>
<TR>
<TD align="left">
2-dimensional spacing
</TD>
<TD align="center">
500
</TD>
<TD align="center">
74
</TD>
</TR>
<TR>
<TD align="left">
Maximum spacing and artificial light (2,500 hrs)
</TD>
<TD align="center">
900
</TD>
<TD align="center">
135
</TD>
</TR>
<TR>
<TD align="left">
Maximum spacing and artifical light (5,000 hrs)
</TD>
<TD align="center">
1200
</TD>
<TD align="center">
180
</TD>
</TR>
<TR>
<TD align="left">
Phytotron experiments under sterile conditions
</TD>
<TD align="center">
1260
</TD>
<TD align="center">
300
</TD>
</TR>
</TABLE>
<br></font><font size=1>Source:Adapted from the Journal of the International Society of Soiless Cultivation, 1988.
<br><br></b>
</font><font size=2>
The same goes for intensive production of almost anything, from fodder to trouts. In south Africa, a hydroponic fodder unit called a Gordon Machine was profitable producing fresh grass rations to supplement feed for sheep raised in the pen or battery system. It was found that 250 sheep could be raised in an area of some 520 square meters, in contrast with the conventional open.range South African standard of one sheep per 2,5 hectares (a 12,000-fold reduction of space!). The same goes for cattle fodder, produced by means of the Groenvoer 365 system.

The saving of water under these kind of production is enormous (and saving fresh water seems a sensible thing to do,,,), as an example, for 1 kg of edible cucumber, 10 liters of water are required under hydroponic greenhouse, compared to 205 liters used in the open fields --as Mother Nature used to advice. One kg of lettuce needs 30 liters against 96 required in the open field. One kg of tomato need 13 liters, compared to 123 liters used by "organic" farmers.

And talking about the post that generated this thread, the nonsense of "inorganic" and "organic" nitrogen, there is little to say (technically, at least, because the political origin of such nonsense would require several thick books). It is in the same level of irrationality as the argument used by anti-nukes that say "man-made radiation" is hideous and dangerous, while "natural radiation" is harmless, although they deny it could be beneficial, in spite of the well established concept of Hormesis (the beneficial health effects of low level radiation) as put forward by the <b>UNSCEAR</b>, the <i>United Nations Scientific Committee on Effects of Atomic Radiation</i>, in its April 4th,1994 document.

The nitrogen molecule is only one (leave aside isotopes) and its combination with other elements will male the substances <b>organic</b> or <b>inorganic</b>. Instead of using "inorganic" nitrogen, organic farmers use "organic" nitrogen found in manure --along with lots of campilobacter and other bacteria that causes food borne diseases. Nice going! No organic for me, thanks...

The press release pasted by Banshee also talks about South America, as if we were living in a prehistoric period, where farming is made "naturally", implying therefore, "healthy". Here in Argentina, we have converted ourselves into the <b>highest per-capita producers of soybean in the world</b>, almost doubling the US per-capita output. We are about to have the largest soybean crop in history --thanks to direct plowing, intensive use of fertilizers, and low use of herbicides because we use genetically modified (GM) varieties of soybean, wheat, corn, rice and whatever. In our present condition, we cannot afford to let modern technologies pass by. Because GM varieties are resistant to weeds and insects, the use of pesticides (Roundup, Dieldrin, etc) has been reduced to negligible levels, with beneficial effects on the environment, people and other animals.

However, there are still people who quote <b>Worldwatch Institute, Greenpeace</b>, the <b>WWF</B> and other anti-scientific organizations in their frantic claims against GM crops and foods, global warming, the ozone hole, DDT, PCBs, and other popular myths crowding the environmental issue. These are anti-people, genocidal organizations that have caused more deaths than Hitler's holocaust. Just remember that malaria kills more than 3 million people every year, needless deaths that could have been avoided if Rachel Carson hadn't start her campaign of lies and missinformation back in 1962.

Enough for now. There is much more to talk about, but it would take years. Remember what Einstein said: <b>"There are two infinite things: the Universe and the Human Stupidity... but I'm not too sure about the Universe".</b>

12. ### wet1WandererRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
8,616
We have almost reached the point that without manmade help, such as fertilizers, we could not raise enough food to feed present day population. If you look at the chart that Edufer has posted, he shows that there is still a lot we could do to increase food production. To keep everyone fed though, is a one way street. You can not go back and say we made a mistake and lets not do that anymore. The results are lots of starved and dead people. Everyone hollers about what we are doing to the earth. When your neighbor dies of starvation then other things of more immeadate nature become the item of prime importance. So in the end you must decide what is the most important, people or enviroment. That is not to say that you can not improve enviroment. What must be allowed for is that it takes a little time to first arrange how best to do it and then put into use the technology that best fits the need.

13. ### Don HRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
642
Here in MD the outbreaks of Fisteria are blamed on pig farm runoff into the bay. The initial researchers were caught off guard with this organism not realizing it will travel in air and unfortunetly causes sever to mederate mental retardation. One of the 3 scientists investigating the fisteria bloom developed permanent retardation.

It grows from FL to SC to MD and has had a severe impact on fishing.

14. ### wet1WandererRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
8,616
Thank you Edufer for the interesting article.

I agree with Greenpeace though, no matter what you say. They've done a lot of very good work.

And I stay with it that people should pay a little more attention to what they leave behind in garbage which they just throw away in Nature, like it is a big trash can. Plastic and all that kind of crap is pollution too...

It shall sound cold and hard, there are much to many people walking down on Earth. Perhaps Earth takes care of that problem Herself...

(yes, give me your reasonable, scientific replies, I am awaiting them!)

15. ### ImaHamster2Registered Senior Member

Messages:
220
Edufer, thanks for the interesting seed. Seems promising.

(While this hamster has no concern for crowded cabbages, do feel some attention should be paid to living conditions of farm animals. First obligation is to hamsters, next humans, then other animals, then life.)

16. ### TruthSeekerFancy Virtual Reality MonkeyValued Senior Member

Messages:
15,162
Edufer,

Yeah... ok... I don't understand very much about agriculture... (actually I never studied it)... But I do understand of ancient agriculture...
Ancient civilizations used to use even the space in the mountains instead of destroying the florest...
And some used to let the ground rest, going to other places, and then coming back after its recovery.

But since our world is so crowded...

They are not freak...
The lettuces don't feel, but they are living beings...
and they deserve respect...

Yup...

Love,
Nelson

17. ### wet1WandererRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
8,616
Originally posted by TruthSeeker
*They are not freak...
The lettuces don't feel, but they are living beings...
and they deserve respect... *

Yep!

Originally posted by Imahamster
*First obligation is to hamsters, next humans, then other animals, then life.)*

First obligation is to Nature, as in Forests and other vegetation, animals (including farm animals!), Earth Herself, humans..:bugeye:

It is outrageous what humans do to farm animals, guess that's something for another thread. Like what humans still do to the Whales, they can't get enough of it. Killing, killing, killing!

I quit it, I am getting real angry now! Talk to you later...

Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2002
18. ### EduferTired warriorRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
791
Even today, as in most parts of the Andes (from Mexico down to Peru, Bolivia, Chile, etc) poor people still do it: they make terraces in the mountains and grow crops for their miserable sustain... But when you go to the sabanas and great plains. you'll find huge extensions of modern agriculture being performed. Ancient civilizations did it because they hadn't developed the technology --today Southamericans (and other parts of the world) keep doing it in mountains, where a tractor is not practical, and intensive agriculture is not possible.

Evolution means progress (or viceversa). In the Amazon jungle (where I lived for some years) indians and poor people have small "chacos" (about 1 or 2 hectares of cleared jungle where they plant corn, peanuts, bananas, yuca, potatoes, pumpkins, etc, all together in three levels: underground, low and medium height. After three or four years, the jungle soil fertility disappears and they move to a new "chaco", next to the old one. Hard work, hard life, meager crops, huge famines... it is not nice, believe me.

How do you know they don't feel? Experiments carried with plants subjected to music coming from loudspeakers, showed that plants "listening" to Mozart grew leaning towards the loudspeakers --and plants subjected to "heavy metal" rock music grew leaning away from the loudspeakers (I can understand them!).

Although the different levels (or stages) of feeling and sensitivity of minerals, plants, animals, humans and "spirits" are a fascinating subject, there is not enough evidence to say anything in favor or against it. Maybe some day... who knows for sure?

And Banshee, why did you get so furious? Take it easy. please. Things could be much worse, but it seems we can improve the state of the planet if everybody wanted to pull in the same direction. In the meantime, have a cold beer and enjoy life... it is not as long as we would it like to be.

19. ### TruthSeekerFancy Virtual Reality MonkeyValued Senior Member

Messages:
15,162
Edufer,

It's not that kind of feeling I'm talking about. I'm saying that they don't have nerves all around them as we do...

Yeah... I prefer listening to Mozart too...

... But... don't understand me wrong!...

...I'm not a lettuce...

...

Love,
Nelson

20. ### wet1WandererRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
8,616
Do I hear cabbage being muttered in the background?

Just kidding, TruthSeeker. You shouldn't leave yourself so open...

21. ### justagirlRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
334
quote

First obligation is to Nature, as in Forests and other vegetation, animals (including farm animals!), Earth Herself, humans..

It is outrageous what humans do to farm animals, guess that's something for another thread. Like what humans still do to the Whales, they can't get enough of it. Killing, killing, killing!

I quit it, I am getting real angry now! Talk to you later...
--------------------------------------------
smiles well said and welcome to the Lakota tribe

22. ### justagirlRegistered Senior Member

Messages:
334
Grandfather, Great Spirit, you have been always, and before you no one has been.

There is no other one to pray to but you.

You yourself, everything that you see, everything has been made by you.

The star nations all over the universe you have finished.

The four quarters of the earth you have finished.

The day, and in that day, everything you have finished.

Grandfather, Great Spirit, lean close to the earth that you may hear the voice I send.

You towards where the sun goes down, behold me;

Thunder Beings, behold me!

You where the White Giant lives in power, behold me!

You where the sun shines continually, whence come the day-break star and the day, behold me!

You where the summer lives, behold me!

You in the depths of the heavens, an eagle of power, behold me!

And you, Mother Earth, the only Mother, you who have shown mercy to your children!

Hear me, four quarters of the world - a relative I am!

Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is!

Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you.

With your power only can I face the winds.

Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather, all over the earth the faces of living things are all alike.

With tenderness have these come up out of the ground.

Look upon these faces of children without number and with children in their arms,

that they may face the winds and walk the good road to the day of quiet.

This is my prayer; hear me!

The voice I have sent is weak, yet with earnestness I have sent it.

Hear me!

It is finished. Hetchetu aloh!

Now, my friend, let us smoke together so that there may be only good between us.

Messages:
8,616
Yes!