Peak Phosphorus is Worse Than Climate Change | Climate Conscious

Source: Peak Phosphorus is Worse Than Climate Change | Climate Conscious

Roger Sylvester-Bradley is on a mission. He’s a crop scientist for ADAS, “the UK’s largest independent provider of agricultural and environmental consultancy.” He’s growing barley and other crops using “legacy phosphorus” from previous harvests instead of industrial fertilizers rich with mined phosphate. He hopes to develop farming techniques that can meet increasing global demand for food while reducing the use of phosphorus reserves. So far, he’s met with promising results; he continues to raise healthy crops in defiance of expectations without adding a single new particle of phosphorus to his soil.

Unfortunately, however, Sylvester-Bradley’s experiments have not stopped business as usual on American industrial farms or their counterparts around the world. Phosphorous is a nutrient that is key to life, but the world has a finite supply, and that supply is running perilously short. Some studies estimate that global phosphorus reserves will run out within 50–100 years. And, as early as 2030, world phosphorus production will likely reach its peak. When that happens, food prices will steadily climb in conjunction with rising fertilizer costs. When the supply runs out, crops will fail and the food web will collapse. Phosphorus depletion is, therefore, an extinction level emergency more pressing than even global warming.

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