Nitrogen: Too much of a good thing?

To most people nitrogen gas is a friendly component of the atmosphere, lacking the stigma placed upon other gases such as carbon and sulfur dioxides. As the key regulator of plant growth and other integral ecological processes, nitrogen is of critical importance to ensuring the health and productivity of crops, forests, fisheries, and livestock operations. As is the case with carbon dioxide, however, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Nitrogens key role in food and energy production has led to dramatic increases in the amount of nitrogen in the air and water, resulting in environmental problems.

The challenges of better utilizing available nutrient resources to feed the worlds population and decreasing nitrogen emissions from fossil fuel combustion will be addressed when over 350 international scientists and policy makers convene at the Second International Nitrogen Conference, Optimizing Nitrogen Management in Food and Energy Production and Environmental Protection. Held in Potomac, Maryland, from October 14-18, 2001, each day of the conference will focus on a different theme, progressing from general information on nitrogen and its effects (Monday and Tuesday) towards current research and planning for preferable policy futures (Wednesday and Thursday).

The diverse expertise present at the conference will be channeled towards drafting a conference statement that will be used in connection with post-conference briefings for decision makers in various agencies, institutions, and countries across the globe. Reflecting the global scope of the conference, Jan Pronk, Dutch Minister for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, and the President of the Sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will open the conference and attend Mondays sessions.

Monday October 15, 2001: Nitrogen Production and Movement

The first day will provide an in-depth tour of the nitrogen cycle a

Contact: Andrew Freedman
Ecological Society of America

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