Fred Pearce On Peak Phosphorus: It's Time For Pee-Cycling
Image credit Sustainable Phosphorus Futures
We have noted before that we are near Peak Phosphorus. Fred Pearce writes at Environment360 that it is A Critical Resource
Misused and Now Running Low. It is also, like oil, sourced in countries that are going through political turmoil, with 15% of the world's supply coming from the Western Sahara. Pearce writes:
The U.S. Geological Survey says that of the 65 billion tons of the world's known phosphate rock reserves -- and the estimated 16 billion tons that might be economic to mine -- almost 80 percent is in Western Sahara and Morocco. Add in China's reserves, and the figure rises to almost 90 percent. The U.S., with 1.4 billion tons, is close to running out.
Pearce also notes that we waste so much of it through over-fertilization, with 37 million tons washing into our waterways each year, causing eutrophication and killing lakes. And if you read TreeHugger, you know already where we waste even more:
So how can we stop phosphate pollution, recycle it, and keep it in the food chain where we need it? Composting crop residues would be a good way of recycling this valued nutrient back into the soil, cutting the need for new applications of fertilizer -- so would capturing some of the 3 million tons of phosphorus that cycles through human bodies annually, after being consumed in our food. Cordell [of the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative] says we should give top priority to recycling our urine, which contains more than half of all the phosphorus that we excrete.
More at Environment360
More on Phosphorus:
Are We Near Peak Phosphorus?
P is for Phosphorus (As Well As Human Urine)
Homemade Bone Meal: A Partial Solution to Peak Phosphate?
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