The Flux Calculator

The way we live changes the flux of nutrients into the environment. What pets we have, what we eat, if we live in an apartment or a house—things like these determine the way we fit into an ecosystem. If we can understand the precise sources and quantities of our nutrient inputs and outputs, we can control them better.

That's why Daniel Nidzgorski and his colleagues have developed a program for estimating a household’s chemical flux and pinpointing the major sources of each nutrient. They call it the household flux calculator.

By looking at the nutrients it takes in—from food to fuel to fertilizer—and the nutrients it emits—from car exhaust to the dog droppings—the flux calculator can determine how a household fits into the urban ecosystem. This information can allow us to track and change our own nutrient flux, and it helps scientists understand how the environment is affected by urban nutrient flux, and what we might do to mitigate its negative effects.