Laughing gas destroys the Earth... What's the story?

2024-05-16 2024-05-16T09:41:54Z
ندى ماهر عبدربه
ندى ماهر عبدربه
صانع مُحتوى

ArabiaWeather - Nitrous oxide , also known as laughing gas , is one of the most prominent greenhouse gases whose emissions contribute to global warming and climate change.

Greenhouse gases are present in the atmosphere in natural concentrations to maintain a temperature suitable for life on Earth.

Without it, the planet's temperature would drop to -18 degrees Celsius, making life impossible.

With the advent of industry about two hundred years ago, the burning of fossil fuels and many other human activities generated intense emissions of greenhouse gases, increasing their concentration in the atmosphere above normal levels. As a result, these gases have an increased ability to absorb the heat of the sun as it attempts to escape from Earth into space during the night, trapping it within the atmosphere.

The most famous and dangerous greenhouse gases are:

  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Methane
  • And water vapor
  • As for nitrous oxide

Although laughing gas, or nitrous oxide , is a powerful and dangerous greenhouse gas, it is less well known and we don't hear about it much.

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What is laughing gas or nitrous oxide?

Answer: Nitrous oxide, also known as dinitrogen oxide or dinitrogen monoxide, is an ozone-depleting gas and a potent greenhouse gas. It is known as laughing gas for its stimulant, laugh-inducing effect when inhaled. This chemical compound, with the chemical formula N2O, is a colorless, non-flammable gas. In its natural state.

Bacteria release it into the soil and oceans, making it part of the Earth's atmosphere for long periods. Nitrous oxide is a powerful greenhouse gas; Due to its ability to trap 273 times more heat than carbon dioxide, it is a major contributor to climate change.

The effect of nitrous oxide on the environment

According to the International Nitrogen Initiative, nitrous oxide does not receive the attention it deserves, despite its powerful impact, and is a forgotten greenhouse gas. At the molecular level, a nitrous oxide molecule is about 300 times more powerful than a carbon dioxide molecule at heating the atmosphere and is a long-lived gas that spends about 114 years in the atmosphere before disintegrating, making it an ozone depletion.

Nitrous oxide emissions

IPCC scientists have estimated that nitrous oxide makes up about 6% of greenhouse gas emissions, and that three-quarters of those emissions come from the agricultural sector. A 2020 study showed that nitrous oxide emissions have risen by 30% in the past four decades, exceeding most likely emissions scenarios. Described by the IPCC climate panel.

Continued nitrous oxide emissions could delay the full recovery of the ozone layer, and negatively impact crop productivity due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation and climate change.

Sources of nitrous oxide

Nitrous oxide emissions are concentrated in two main sectors: industry and agriculture.

Industry: Most emissions are produced during the manufacture of nitric and adipic acids. Nitric acid is used as a raw material for the production of commercial synthetic fertilizers, while adipic acid is used in the manufacture of synthetic fibers and lubricants.

Agriculture: Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers leads to a significant increase in direct soil emissions of nitrous oxide, and plants cannot absorb nitrogen from fertilizers beyond their need for growth, leaving about 50% of it to pollute water sources or to be converted into nitrous oxide by bacteria in the soil. Also, Handling animal waste activates bacteria that produce more nitrous oxide and the livestock sector, including cows, chickens and pigs, produces about 65% of the nitrous oxide associated with humans.

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How are laughing gas emissions dealt with?

Answer: Despite its powerful and direct impact on climate change, policymakers have not adequately addressed nitrous oxide emissions to date, allowing the gas to continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.

Scientists stress the importance of reducing anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions as part of any urgent strategy to mitigate climate change and flatten the warming curve in the near term. Therefore, rapid action on nitrous oxide is essential, as mitigation pathways aimed at limiting temperature rise require... To 1.5°C lower nitrous oxide emissions.

Today, scientists are looking at a range of ways to remediate soil or modify agricultural practices to reduce nitrous oxide production. “Anything that can be done to improve the efficiency of fertilizer use will have an impact,” says Michael Castellano, an agricultural ecologist and soil scientist at Iowa State University.

Available and cost-effective technology can reduce nitrous oxide emissions by up to 50%. Adopting nitrogen oxide emissions management measures in agricultural and industrial activities can also achieve co-benefits related to environmental and food security.

The optimal use of fertilizers contributes to reducing nitrogen pollution and its negative effects on the environment, such as encouraging the growth of invasive plant species, reduces production and supply chain costs, and limits dependence on fertilizer supplies that can be easily disrupted by climate change and conflicts.


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This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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