>The Gulf of Mexico is turning bright green not due to chemicals dumped into the area but from abnormal blooming of algae which thrives due to nitrogen rich waters. Why, well due to increasing ethanol demands which comes from corn. Apparently, the rising demand for ethanol from corn has spurred farmers to begin shifting to corn and in the process utilizing more and more fertilizers which run off into the rivers and streams. The excessive nitrogen then causes algae to bloom and multiply rapidly which could affect the ecology of the Gulf area impacting fish and other wildlife in the process. Too much algae eats up a lot of the oxygen in the water and also blocks out the sun allowing less to penetrate down to plants and animals that need it to survive. The dead zone is growing and is expected to reach never seen size as the NASA article on the topic shows.
The effect has been noticed for sometime and the abnormal growth of algae which usually happens once a year or every two years making it a common occurrence. If the said event continues, it is forecast to affect fish stocks in the area due to less food that is available. As early as the race goes in attaining a sustainable alternative fuel economy goes, problems are already popping out of the most unlikely places. Marine life and all other dependent species would disappear during the said blooms and even stay away permanently due to lack of food due to competition.
Scientists have predicted some of these effects yet this one came a bit too quick and at a large scale that they have to find a solution to the problem. Fertilizer runoff is quite normal for water loaded with fertilizers and other chemicals such as pesticides eventually finds its way to a running body of water. The only problem, too much too fast and the runoff which should have normally been cleaned in the rivers and streams cannot digest the nutrients enough sending it down stream to the seas of the gulf.
Originally posted on March 16, 2008 @ 2:22 pm