Tom Philpott at Mother Jones posts an excellent article (August 14, 2013) on Gulf of Mexico dead zones (devoid of oceanic life or thriving life). I’d recently ‘caught wind’ of, had been re-reminded of, what he explores in his article but hadn’t had time to dig up information.
Philpott’s article is comprehensive, with excellent graphics (maps, etc) to help us learn about causes and extent of these dead zones. He writes in a way that allows understanding to build as you read through the article.
I could not possibly offer the quality and clarity he brings to one of our on-going environmental disasters – dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico, and – as Philpott makes clear – other large water bodies under our stewardship.
Please take time to explore Philpott’s article here: “Why This Year’s Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone is Twice as Big as Last Year’s”.
You will find multiple supporting visuals and source links throughout his text.
A few points from among many in Philpott’s article:
- “Why such massive annual dead zones? It’s a matter of geography and concentration and intensification of fertilizer-dependent agriculture. Note that an enormous swath of the US landmass—41 percent of it—drains into the Mississippi River Basin ..”
- “The vast majority of US corn production—which uses titanic amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, the two main nutrients behind the dead zone—occurs there.”
- “… the US Geological Service has traced flows of nitrogen and phosphorus into the Gulf, and there’s no denying the link to farming. “In total, agricultural sources contribute more than 70 percent of the nitrogen and phosphorus delivered to the Gulf, versus only 9 to 12% from urban sources,””
- “The Gulf isn’t the only water body that bears the brunt of our concentrated ag production. Much of the eastern edge of the Midwest drains into the Great Lakes, not the Gulf. And they, too, are experiencing fertilizer-fed algae blooms …”
- “”Livestock manure and poultry litter account for about half of the nutrients entering the Chesapeake Bay,” the Chesapeake Bay Program reports.”
My Best – Our Best —MaggieAnn
See also: “Earth’s Dilemma…” (post on size and range of on-going environmental disasters nationally and globally); and “Oil Train Disasters do not justify…“ (post on seldom revealed extensive and toxic damage already happening with Alberta’s bitumen ‘tar sands’ mining.)