Do you know how a car is made?
A lot of people combine a lot of material, add paint and parts to it and carefully construct it until it reaches its intended shape and look.
Then, the car’s transferred onto a parking lot, right outside the manufacturing plant.
It’s rows and rows of freshly-made cars, neatly lined up, waiting to be plucked for delivery to customers.
When they are ripe for delivery, a group of people come out there and drive them off the lots, into trucks, and send them away for delivery.
Then they are displayed in stores, called showrooms, where customers can go in, pick the one(s) they like and drive home with it.
Do you know how Vegetables are made?
Farmer(s) plough the land, plant a bunch of seed and add fertilizers & water to it, until the crops grow and reach their intended shape and look.
Once the time comes, there are rows and rows of freshly-ripened vegetables, waiting to be harvested for delivery to customers.
The farmer (or farmers, depending on the size of the factory…. ummm… farm) then harvests the vegetables and loads them onto a truck for delivery.
These vegetables are displayed in shops and stores, where customers can go in, pick the one(s) they like and drive home with it.
More similar than you thought, right?
But Cars are such Banes on the Environment
Yes, cars are terrible consumers of fossil fuels and they also emit a bunch of bad stuff from their exhaust pipes and, if you read our article on tyre-related pollution, other parts as well.
However, agriculture isn’t very different!
If you think about it, there’s nothing “natural” about plants of one kind, growing in a line, for miles on end.
The moment humans figured out how to grow their own food, forests and the environment were ruined forever!
Around the world, Slash and Burn agriculture – a form where forests are cut down and burnt to clear land for farming – is practices by 200 to 500 million farmers.
As populations have grown, our need for more agricultural land has been one of the largest killers of forests around the world.
And we stupidly call agriculture “natural”.
But that’s not the Real Pollution Issue
There is one more angle of pollution that we have failed to consider.
If you remove slashing and burning agriculture, and also the massively pollutant-intensive process of burning of left-over stubble by farmers, you are still left with one major pollution format – fertilizers!
In a study by the University of California, it was revealed that 25 to 41% of Nitrogen Dioxide in the air came from agricultural soils.
Nitrogen Dioxide (NOx) is a major component of Smog formation and soil contains microbes that digest nitrogen and release NOx.
Essentially, whatever NOx is not consumed by the plants, is consumed by these microbes and released to the atmosphere.
On top of that, farmers also add more nitrogen in the soil to refresh the levels for optimal plant growth – that’s where the NOx escapes into the air, contaminates ground water and also gives microbes more fodder to release into the air.
As the need to grow more food in limited agricultural land becomes imperative, we begin to realise that some of the sources of pollution are not as conventional as previously understood.
The Moral of the Story Then?
Yes, we should all eat… cars… instead of vegetables!
No wait… that’s not it…. we should all eat fewer vegetables??!
Is that it?
Does that mean population is the problem then?
Wait! Maybe it is… so to solve the problem of agricultural NOx pollution, we should grow fewer crops and use lesser fertilizer.
That also means, we need to have fewer people who can survive on the lesser farming we do!
So stop eating vegetables and… cars (if you’ve already started)… and start eating…. uhhh… People??!
Now I’m just confused!