The social costs of nitrogen

Bonnie L. Keeler, Jesse D. Gourevitch, Stephen Polasky, Forest Isbell, Chris W. Tessum, Jason D. Hill, Julian D. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Despite growing recognition of the negative externalities associated with reactive nitrogen (N), the damage costs of N to air, water, and climate remain largely unquantified. We propose a comprehensive approach for estimating the social cost of nitrogen (SCN), defined as the present value of the monetary damages caused by an incremental increase in N. This framework advances N accounting by considering how each form of N causes damages at specific locations as it cascades through the environment. We apply the approach to an empirical example that estimates the SCN for N applied as fertilizer. We track impacts of N through its transformation into atmospheric and aquatic pools and estimate the distribution of associated costs to affected populations. Our results confirm that there is no uniform SCN. Instead, changes in N management will result in different N-related costs depending on where N moves and the location, vulnerability, and preferences of populations affected by N. For example, we found that the SCN per kilogram of N fertilizer applied in Minnesota ranges over several orders of magnitude, from less than $0.001/kg N to greater than $10/kg N, illustrating the importance of considering the site, the form of N, and end points of interest rather than assuming a uniform cost for damages. Our approach for estimating the SCN demonstrates the potential of integrated biophysical and economic models to illuminate the costs and benefits of N and inform more strategic and efficient N management.%U http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/advances/2/10/e1600219.full.pdf
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1600219
JournalScience advances
Volume2
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

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Nitrogen
Costs and Cost Analysis
Fertilizers
Economic Models
Climate
Population
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Air
Water

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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The social costs of nitrogen. / Keeler, Bonnie L.; Gourevitch, Jesse D.; Polasky, Stephen; Isbell, Forest; Tessum, Chris W.; Hill, Jason D.; Marshall, Julian D.

In: Science advances, Vol. 2, No. 10, e1600219, 2016.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Keeler, Bonnie L. ; Gourevitch, Jesse D. ; Polasky, Stephen ; Isbell, Forest ; Tessum, Chris W. ; Hill, Jason D. ; Marshall, Julian D. / The social costs of nitrogen. In: Science advances. 2016 ; Vol. 2, No. 10.
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