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Free Content Learning from 100 Years of Ammonia Synthesis. Establishing Human-Defined Limits through Adaptive Systems of Governance

100 years ago, the development of the Haber-Bosch process for synthesizing ammonia gave humans the ability to fix nitrogen on an industrial scale and freed societies from constraints associated with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. This innovation facilitated increases in the productivity of agricultural land and in the production of explosives; however, it also resulted in significantly more chemically active nitrogen being placed in circulation. Today, flows of nitrogen through human and natural systems are intimately intertwined. The response to concerns associated with too much nitrogen in circulation suggests that societies are gradually learning to replace bacteria-based limits with human-defined limits. An important part of this effort includes developing processes for producing knowledge essential to that task.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2013

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  • GAIA is a peer-reviewed inter- and transdisciplinary journal for scientists and other interested parties concerned with the causes and analyses of environmental and sustainability problems and their solutions.

    Environmental problems cannot be solved by one academic discipline. The complex natures of these problems require cooperation across disciplinary boundaries. Since 1991, GAIA has offered a well-balanced and practice-oriented forum for transdisciplinary research. GAIA offers first-hand information on state of the art environmental research and on current solutions to environmental problems. Well-known editors, advisors, and authors work to ensure the high quality of the contributions found in GAIA and a unique transdisciplinary dialogue – in a comprehensible style.

    GAIA is an ISI-journal, listed in the Science Citation Index Expanded, Social Science Citation Index and in Current Contents/Social and Behavioral Sciences.

    All contributions undergo a double-blind peer review.

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