Growing Food, Sowing Trouble

We need fertilizer to grow the food the world needs to survive. But fertilizer pollution turns lakes into slime pits, kills fish and other marine life, contaminates drinking water, and creates suffocating smog. It’s also a major source of greenhouse gas. You don’t hear about fertilizer’s impact on the environment as much as coal or oil, perhaps because we haven’t found an adequate replacement. In this series, the Center for Public Integrity, Grist and The World examine how our dependence on fertilizer harms the climate and endangers the public. (Illustration by Amelia Bates of Grist)