Industrial Nitrogen Fixation: A History Of Fertilizers

This interactive was produced using Verite Timeline as an accompanying graphic for a short news piece that I wrote for Boston University News Service, Scientists Report First Step Away From Fertilizers. The graphic was designed to pull attention to all the good and the bad that synthetic fertilizers have done for humanity: helped to feed the population explosion, but created dead zones in the oceans and killed many, many people in fertilizer fires around the world, large and small. One thing I always liked to think about was the irony of the organic food movement; most of us living today, including many people who are vehemently anti-synthetic fertilizers (and for good reason) probably wouldn’t be alive if not for those fertilizers. And Fritz Haber, who was also the inventor of chemical warfare. A little heavy to think about. Radiolab actually made an excellent show on Haber, and how to reconcile this man who killed thousands, but saved millions.