Monday, December 22, 2008
swimming in your ocean
There's no end to the sheer idiocy of the factory farm system.
After an article back in April about how C02 intensive the meat rich diet is, Discovery News now has one about the nitrogen runoff from Factory Farms destroying oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico.
Now new research shows how the leftover fertilizer is contributing to an oxygen-starved dead zone where the Mississippi River drains into the Gulf of Mexico. Last summer, the zone was nearly the size of Massachusetts.
Gidon Eshel of Bard College at Simon's Rock in Massachusetts and Pamela Martin of the University of Chicago calculate that if Americans kicked their meat habit, it would prevent seven million tons of nitrogen from spilling into the gulf -- a reduction of nearly 90 percent.
"When we did the calculations, it was astonishing," Eshel said. "The main reason is we're feeding so much corn to livestock. It takes 4.5 times more cropland to do that than if you feed people a plant diet, and corn is so nitrogen-intensive."
Cutting down on nitrogen run-off is a big deal, because if it continues unchecked it could threaten shrimp and fishing industries in the gulf, said William Battaglin of the United States Geological Survey.
"Conditions have not been catastrophic to fisheries yet," he said. "The concern is that if this keeps up, you could turn the whole place into the Black Sea, with everything dead."