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Podcast: On the Way to Peak Phosphorus

On this episode of Generation Anthropocene, we dive into one of the most underappreciated elements on the periodic table

An algal bloom caused by eutrophication, when an ecosystem is overloaded with nutrients like phosphorus. (F. lamiot , Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA)
smithsonian.com

Phosphorus is an essential element to life on earth, but it's not distributed equally, to say the least. Geologic deposits of phosphorus are concentrated in just five countries, and experts say the rate at which we're consuming it is unsustainable, predicting we may reach peak phosphorus this century.

Meanwhile, overuse of phosphorus-based fertilizers contributes to algal blooms and dead zones in waterways worldwide. 

In this episode of Generation Anthropocene, producer Leslie Chang gets to the bottom of what's going on with phosphorus, one of the least appreciated—but most important—elements on the periodic table.

Related podcasts by Generation Anthropocene:

How Humans Caused Mass Extinctions Thousands of Years Ago

What Our Garbage Can Teach Us

All About Rare Earth Elements, The 'Vitamins' of Modern Society

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