I’m losing track of the stories of Scottish researchers making a useful contribution well beyond our shores. Here are four recent examples:
Now researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University are working on ways to recover phosphorous from sewage. Phosphorous as some of you know is a vital element in food production. Here’s a bit of detail from the BBC website:
- It’s in our cells. In fact – just for once – it’s not an exaggeration to say it’s literally part of our DNA.
- Most importantly it’s an essential ingredient of the fertilisers that put food on our tables.
- Whether it’s fruit, vegetables or the plants we use to feed livestock, they all need phosphorus.
- And unlike nitrogen, that other element essential for growth, we can’t pluck it out of the air.
- The planet’s phosphorus reserves are limited and diminishing.
- Our bodies use only a little of the phosphorus contained in the food we eat.
- The rest of it we are pouring down the drain.
- It goes into our sewage and is washed irrecoverably out to sea.
- It has to be mined in a relative handful of countries, not all of them beacons of stability.
The BBC website, it has to be noted, does not seem to have any anti-independence agenda comparable to Good Morning Scotland or Reporting Scotland and often tells good news stories about Scotland. Readers have often noted this before. I think we have to assume it’s under different editorship (younger?) and recognises its audience is different (more Yes-orientated?)
Professor Ole Pahl, leading the research team said:
‘The statistics say that every person uses about 22kg of the original material – in rock – per year. So, multiply that by the world population and you can imagine how much of it we use.’
I’ve done the calculation based on a world population of 7.5 billion, it’s 165 billion kgs or 165 million tonnes (?).
Footnote: Professor Ole Pahl. As pub land-lord Al Murray might have said ‘Pahl’, beautiful Scotch name meaning ‘friend.’