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5 August 2020
Massive Ammonium Nitrate Explosions: Beirut, Texas City, and West, Texas
As Beirut struggles with the aftermath of an enormous explosion apparently caused by thousands of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a dockside warehouse, it is notable that the world has seen such disasters before. What follows is a re-posting of an article I wrote and posted here in 2013 called “Deja Vu: Remembering the 1947 Texas City (Fertilizer) Disaster.” Why did the authorities decide to store such a massive …
28 April 2013
The Gas We Eat
Nearly half of the world’s population owes its existence to food grown with industrial nitrogen fertilizer produced from natural gas. (1) In 2004, journalist Richard Manning published an intriguing, if somewhat controversial, article in Harpers magazine called The Oil We Eat: Tracing the food chain back to Iraq. Manning notes that growing our food under the usual practices requires about 10 calories of fossil fuel energy for every calorie of …