The climate benefits of better nitrogen and phosphorus management

Alan R. Townsend, Peter M. Vitousek, Benjamin Z. Houlton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A more efficient use of nitrogen and phosphorus has environmental, socioeconomic, and national security benefits, which includes reducing some of the risks of a warming climate. Studies have found that continued release of excess nitrogen to the environment will probably accelerate climate change with time and will also lead to the formation of more ozone holes in this century. Enhancing access to nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers in Africa and other regions that do not now have enough is one step toward increasing food security and reducing the risk of social disruption. Unlike ground-level O3 or eutrophication, nitrogen and phosphorus are generally not the major agents of risk, but lowering their release to the environment would lessen the multiple stresses that alter ecosystems and affect human well-being. On the industrial side, the Clean Air Act demonstrates that regulatory policies can reduce pollution without any compelling evidence for the kinds of economic trauma sometimes anticipated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalIssues in Science and Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012


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