Nitrous oxide or N2O is the third largest source of GHG emissions behind carbon dioxide and methane. Also known as laughing gas, it’s long-lived like carbon dioxide and incredibly potent like methane. And it accounts for about 6% of global warming. 

So where does it come from? And what do we do about it?

In this episode, Shayle talks to Eric Davidson, professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, and principal scientist at Spark Climate Solutions. Eric studies the surprising source of nitrous oxide: bacteria in the soil. Eric and Shayle talk about topics like: 

  • How the application of nitrogen fertilizer causes more emissions than the production of fertilizer itself
  • The challenging economics of agriculture that cause farmers to over-apply fertilizer
  • How precise and timely application of fertilizer could cut emissions
  • New livestock feed additives that could replace the N2O-intensive crops in animal feed
  • New crops that require less fertilizer

Recommended Resources:

  • Nature Climate Change: Improving the social cost of nitrous oxide
  • The Conversation: New research: nitrous oxide emissions 300 times more powerful than CO₂ are jeopardizing Earth’s future
  • Nature: A comprehensive quantification of global nitrous oxide sources and sinks

Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

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