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Organic Consumers Association

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Cook Organic not the Planet Campaign

What Is Nitrous Oxide and Why Is It a Climate Threat?

Despite its increasing role in global warming and effect on the ozone layer, little has been done to rein in this climate pollutant. One big reason: agriculture.

When it comes to the global climate crisis, carbon dioxide emissions represent a problem that's massive, intractable and running short on time to solve. But it's not the only problem.

Other pollutants are rapidly warming our climate, too, sending scientists on a race to understand their implications before it's too late. For years, experts have warned about the risks from one pollutant in particular—nitrous oxide—and yet there's been little global action on it.

The reason: "It is intimately connected to food," said Ravi Ravishankara, an atmospheric chemist at Colorado State University who co-chaired a United Nations panel on stratospheric ozonefrom 2007 to 2015.

Nitrous oxide is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and it also depletes the ozone layer. Since it also has a shorter life span, reducing it could have a faster, significant impact on global warming.

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