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Peak phosphorus 2033


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19 replies to this topic

#1
wjfox

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What will replace phosphorus?

#2
truthiness

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Oh, stop worrying... it'll be fine... we just do like we do with salt. When people have trouble with salt in their diets, its really a sodium problem, so we find that most artificial "diet" foods and drinks just go one level down the periodic table and use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. Sodium problem solved! So, let's just see... one level down from phosphorus is..... Arsenic. Oh. Well, damn.
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#3
Craven

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Nah, we'll just have to learn to collect phosphorus from sewers, dumps and waters, that's all. I'll be painful with overpopulation and no fossil fuels, but well - maybe this will force population reduction.
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#4
TreeHandThing

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We're screwed. Combine this with the extinction of the honeybee and messed up rainfall patterns due to global warming, and you have the death of 1 billion+ people.

#5
stevo

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i don't see how we would reduce our population We can't kill people. that would be evil!

#6
Craven

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It may reduce on it's own, for example due to mass starvation caused by climate change and skyrocketing food deficit.
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#7
zEVerzan

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Can asteroids contain traces of phosphorous? I know that they often contain organic materials and amino acids but I don't know if that includes phosphorous. If so, and we start mining asteroids soon enough, we'll have this crisis in the bag.
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#8
Alric

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A combination of hydroponics and better methods of capturing phosphorus will probably solve the issue. Though we really do need to start switching to other methods of farming and stuff now. It isn't a quick process, so waiting until people are starving to start making the switch isn't very wise.

#9
Logically Irrational

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I look at it this way. Peak phosphorus is going to arrive after the problems from peak oil and maybe even coal have already hit. The reliance on oil and coal is much more widely appreciated than phosphorus. As we hit these other barrier first, I imagine that the shifts in society towards sustainability that are a result of peak oil will help cushion the collision with peak phosphorus. A lot of the reforms to agriculture necessary because of fossil fuel's role in farming will translate over to alleviating the effects of peak phosphorus. I think we're much better prepared for peak oil than peak phosphorus, so the fact that we'll hit the "easier" one, so to speak, first will likely prepare us for the next. Get a better appreciation for resource shortages in general, start looking at the state of other supplies, that kind of thing. It's not like we're going to continue with our current consumption and waste right up until 2033 and then collapse. The proceeding peaks won't let us.
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#10
SG-1

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Maybe verticle farming could also help? We won't be able to use fertilizers but we also wont have to worry about bugs so we won't need pesticides. Food will taste homegrown

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#11
Logically Irrational

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That would definitely help, but some level of phosphorus will be necessary no matter what for certain biological processes if I'm not mistaken. It's all a matter of getting it back in balance. Nature has managed the system fine for a long, long time. We're only different now because we waste much more than you're average mammal.
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#12
SG-1

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Do you really think all the phosphorus will be gone? We don't survive because companies use phosphorus as fertilizer. I will have to do some research on this.

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#13
Craven

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But really - phosphorus is not oil. It's still on this planet. When you burn oil it's basically gone (you need millions of years for it to "regrow"). But phosphorus is an element it doesn't vanish it's not burned up. So seriously - we'll have just find ways to reclaim it.
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#14
Logically Irrational

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Do you really think all the phosphorus will be gone? We don't survive because companies use phosphorus as fertilizer.
I will have to do some research on this.


Haha, no. Not at all. I'm someone who is fully against wanton doomsday scenarios. Craven's got it right. It's not like oil. The phosphorus isn't gone, we just need to develop new ways to reclaim it. In fact, the phosphorus is still in the same cycle, we'd just have to wait for geological uplift to remove it from the oceans. :biggrin:
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

#15
Logically Irrational

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Here's some more reading on it from Biofuels Digest:
http://gma.yahoo.com...topstories.html
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#16
Logically Irrational

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Ok, I also found this, which I post here with some trepidation I suppose. What's the track record for the IFA and IFDC? Does anyone know? Is this legit? Is it bullshit?

http://www.fertilize...-peak-phosphate

There's this interesting page on phosphorus:
http://www.ifdc.org/...es/Global_TraPs
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

#17
SG-1

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Thanks, I'll read them when I get the time.

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#18
Logically Irrational

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So is that a response to the biofuels digest article?
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#19
OrbitalResonance

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Asteroid Mining

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#20
Ru1138

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I know this is an old topic, but I've found something that is pertinent.

 

Sustainable P Initiative

 

SPI is ASU's timely and solution-driven response to what might be called “the biggest problem you’ve never heard of.” By closing the phosphorus cycle, countries, cities, and families will become more secure and more affluent, while living in a healthier environment free of the degrading impacts of widespread nutrient pollution.

What difference does it make?





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