Is Peak Phosphorous a Bigger Threat Than Peak Oil?

Believe it or not, climate change and "Peak Oil" are not the biggest problems facing the 21st century. "Peak Phosphorous" could hit sooner and harder, threatening food supplies for half the Earth's population. Phosphorous is a fertilizing nutrient that is vital to large-scale agriculture, and currently it can only be mined, but supplies are growing shorter and shorter.
Fortunately, there may be a solution. Ostara, a Canadian-based company backed in part by environmental legend Robbert Kennedy Jr., has patented a technique to extract valuable chemicals out of the waste stream (i.e.: sewage). The result is called "Crystal Green" a slow-release chemical fertilizer that contains high levels of phosphorous and is extracted from an abundant, ever-flowing resource ... sewage.
Intentionally or not, the brand name bears a remarkable similarity to Soylent Green, the 1973 cult classic in which an undercover cop discovers that an agribusiness giant is peddling [wafers made of people] to satisfy a world hunger crisis. The book Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison which was the basis for the film was not, it turns out, terribly off the mark.
In the novel, 2022 was the year that marked a depletion of world food stocks due to overpopulation and resource depletion. A new study by Foreign Policy (as reported in The New York Times) confirms Harrison's fears of a collapsing agricultural system. About 90 percent of the world's phosphorous supplies are controlled by five countries, and they warn that as soon as 2040, this limited resource could be lost forever if we don't get better at reclaiming our discarded phosphorous. Ostara has been testing their PEARL chemical reactor in a Candian sewage plant with great results and now a plant near Portland, Oregon, has implemented a full-scale version of the reactor which produces 500 tons of fertilizer per year.
It's interesting to note that the technology was pioneered not to save the planet from famine, but to solve a problem in sewage plants in which a build up of ammonia and phosphorous clogs pipes and causes waste streams that are toxic to the environment. The result is a win-sin situation-cleaner waste water and a mineral fertilizer that acts as an added revenue source for sewage treatment plants.
Most importantly, it offers a way out of the nightmare of "Peak Phosphorous."
Via Fast Company (watch the video on Ostara's website to learn more).
Karl Burkart blogs about the latest in green media and technology for the Mother Nature Network.\n
Related Articles on Mother Nature Network:\n
Photo via Ostara via Mother Nature Network \n
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger


Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head


Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor


Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet