Levels of nitrous oxide (N2O), a powerful greenhouse gas that also depletes the ozone layer, could nearly double by mid-century, according to a new United Nations report. It is now the most important ozone-depleting gas and the third most powerful greenhouse gas being emitted into the atmosphere.
Agriculture contributes two-thirds of the man-made N2O, mostly through the use of chemical fertilizer. The knowhow to improve the efficiency of fertilizer use and consequently decrease emissions exists; the challenge is getting more farmers to adopt practices such as applying fertilizer in the spring rather than the fall so more is used by the plant. (Learn more about what motivates some farmers to adopt such practices). Other solutions include reducing food waste and eating less meat, since producing animal protein leads to higher nitrous oxide pollution than plant protein.