The PJ Tatler

Life imitates satire: "Calculate your nitrogen footprint"

Exactly one year ago I wrote a satirical piece for PajamasMedia entitled The Footprint Theory of Life, in which I carefully explained to all you dunderheads that “lowering your carbon footprint” was just the beginning, and that we need to lower all of our elemental footprints if we wanted to save Mother Gaia.

Well, a professor at the University of Virginia must have read the article without realizing it was satire, because he’s just unveiled his Nitrogen Footprint Calculator so you can figure out how much precious nitrogen your worthless self is using up:

Your eating habits can make quite an impact on the environment. Producing and consuming food is one of the major contributors to nitrogen pollution. A scientist at the University of Virginia has created a new web-based tool that measures your nitrogen footprint so you can take steps to reduce it.

Jim Galloway is an environmental scientist and Associate Dean for the Sciences at UVA’s College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He said the nitrogen calculator measures your nitrogen footprint by the way you live, the transportation you use and the goods and services and food you consume. Too much nitrogen in the environment can affect air and water quality.

“If Americans just consumed only the protein, animal or vegetable protein, that they’re supposed to consume instead of over consuming we would decrease the nitrogen pollution problem in the United States by a very large number,” Galloway said.

“A very large number.” Ooooh! That’s big!

If only Jim Galloway had read my original essay more closely, he would have seen that I already have a solution to this pressing issue:

Since our bodies contain a lot of nitrogen molecules, when we die the nitrogen which we had been selfishly trapping for our own personal use is released back into the biosphere. Thus, a nice round of human self-extinction would release a substantial amount of balancing nitrogen, and have the added benefit of decreasing our carbon usage. Something to consider.

Problem solved!