Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Must We Really Befoul Our Water? Can't We Leave Something Alone?

A huge dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Said to be the largest ever. Fish dying in countless millions. Industrial agriculture to blame.

Algae blooms caused by the discharge of large volumes of agricultural chemicals into our freshwater resources have become a common and deadly plague across North America and Asia. The chemicals in the runoff, especially nitrogen, are nutrients that trigger the growth and spread of toxic algae blooms in our rivers, our lakes and sometimes along our coasts.

A big bloom underway now in the Gulf of Mexico. The biggest ever it's said. The culprit - meat producers discharging toxins from fertilizers and manure.

It is expected that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) will this week announce the largest ever recorded dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. It is expected to be larger than the nearly 8,200 square-mile area that was forecast for July – an expanse of water roughly the size of New Jersey.

Nutrients flowing into streams, rivers and the ocean from agriculture and wastewater stimulate an overgrowth of algae, which then decomposes. This results in hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, in the water, causing marine life either to flee or to die.

Some creatures, such as shrimp, suffer stunted growth. Algal blooms themselves can cause problems, as in Florida last summer when several beaches were closed after they became coated in foul-smelling green slime.

Arkansas-based Tyson Foods is identified by the report as a “dominant” influence in the pollution, due to its market strength in chicken, beef and pork. Tyson, which supplies the likes of McDonald’s and Walmart, slaughters 35m chickens and 125,000 head of cattle every week, requiring five million acres of corn a year for feed, according to the report.

This consumption resulted in Tyson generating 55m tons of manure last year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with 104m tons of pollutants dumped into waterways over the past decade. The Mighty research found that the highest levels of nitrate contamination correlate with clusters of facilities operated by Tyson and Smithfield, another meat supplier.

This pollution has also been linked to drinking water contamination. Last week, a report by Environmental Working Group found that in 2015 water systems serving 7 million Americans in 48 states contained high levels of nitrates. Consuming nitrates has been linked to an increased risk of contracting certain cancers.

Surely this is a perfect situation for intervention by America's Environmental Protection Agency? What's that, they've been euthanized? Trump's idea? Oh dear.

Before I forget, one other thing. Tomorrow is Earth Overshoot Day, 2017. 


Anonymous said...

Tyson are a terrible company.
They poison the environment wherever they go.
And Trump wishes to reduce the powers of the EPA!!


Anonymous said...

Yay, meat producers. Thanks for the ruination.
So much for the links in our ecological chain. My friend's mate is meeting in D.C. with others, for an Animal Rights convention. After which, coincidentally, they will convene in North Carolina where the largest slaughter-house in America operates. She is a film-maker on those issues.

Lorne said...

As well, I always think its interesting, but not surprising, that governments refuse to talk about the greenhouse gas emissions that the meat-production industry are responsible for. God forbid that we should wreck the economy, by eating less pork and beef, eh?

Toby said...

History is replete with what happens when public tolerance crumbles, the French Revolution being a prime example. Those who caused the problems get dragged out kicking and screaming and sent to the gallows, the Guillotine, the firing squad. There is no question of will it happen, just a matter of when.

Anonymous said...

There is no question of will it happen, just a matter of when.

But will it happen soon enough?

I know I should not , but I can't help thinking of Tony Blairs head rolling down the gutter!!