Global and Local Responses to the Nitrogen Challenge: AAAS Meeting Session


This February 2011 special session at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., brought together some of the nation’s leading thinkers in nitrogen science to discuss recent scientific findings, as well as the results of assessments at the state, national and international level that link nitrogen science, practice, and policy.

The panel of biologists, biogeochemists and economists reviewed policy responses aimed at addressing the challenge reactive nitrogen presents to human health and the environment, including a draft EPA Science Advisory Board report on nitrogen expected to be released in spring 2011. Two new, practical tools geared toward agriculture and consumers were also announced.

Read the session's abstract here.

Session Audio

Listen to an audio recording of the full session (2 hr 22 min., mp3 file, 23 MB)

Session Participants and Presentations

Cheryl A. Palm | The Earth Institute, Columbia University

Nitrogen, Development, and Sustainability: Trade-Offs Between Too Little and Too Much | download a PDF of this presentation

A discussion of the central role of nitrogen in development related to food security in Africa, highlighting the various tradeoffs related to environmental services and biodiversity, climate change and human health and well-being. Includes a look at examples of policies and programs aimed at minimizing these tradeoffs.

Alan R. Townsend | University of Colorado

Catch 22: The Nitrogen Cycle and Human Welfare | download a PDF of this presentation

A discussion of the findings of the ongoing United States Nitrogen Assessment, including a description of the benefits and costs reactive nitrogen use has had on the population, economy, and natural resources. Compares and contrasts the challenges various regions confront (e.g., the Mississippi Basin, Chesapeake Bay, and Rocky Mountains), and discusses of potential responses at the state and national level.

Thomas P. Tomich | Agricultural Sustainability Institute at UC Davis

A Framework for Action: Lessons from the California Nitrogen Assessment | download a PDF of this presentation

A report on the results of the California Nitrogen Assessment. Outlines a suite of practical and policy options that counterbalance the benefits of reactive nitrogen with its costs for California, the most agriculturally productive, biologically diverse, and populated state in the United States.

Cliff Snyder | International Plant Nutrition Institute

Nitrogen Stewardship: Balancing Crop Production Management and Environmental Protection | download a PDF of this presentation

The International Plant Nutrition Institute has developed a preliminary GIS-based county and watershed-scale assessment of N and other major nutrient balances in the U.S. The potential for international adaptation of the GIS-based approach will be discussed as a means to help improve N use efficiency and effectiveness in crop production.

*Please note, this presentation contains notes from the author.  To view the notes, float your mouse over the comments icon in the top left corner of the document. 

James N. Galloway | University of Virginia

The Nitrogen Dilemma of the United States: A Case Study | download a PDF of this presentation

People who want to eat healthy and live sustainably have a new way to measure their impact on the environment: a Web-based tool that calculates an individual's "nitrogen footprint." The calculator is a project of the International Nitrogen Initiative, a global network of scientists who share research and data on the nitrogen dilemma.