There’s An Environmental Disaster Unfolding In The Gulf of Mexico

There’s An Environmental Disaster Unfolding In The Gulf of Mexico

SOURCE: HuffPost DATE: July 11, 2019 SNIP: A historic slow-moving flood of polluted Mississippi River water loaded with chemicals, pesticides and human waste from 31 states and two Canadian provinces is draining straight into the marshes and bayous of the Gulf of Mexico — the nurseries of Arnesen’s fishing grounds — upsetting the delicate balance of salinity and destroying the fragile ecosystem in the process. As the Gulf waters warm this summer, algae feed on the freshwater brew, smothering oxygen-starved marine life. And as of Wednesday, an advancing storm looks likely to turn into a tropical storm or hurricane by the weekend, with the potential to bring torrential downpours and more freshwater flooding. Fishermen and state government officials agree this long, hot summer may go down in history as one of the most destructive years for Gulf fisheries. The torrent of river water pushing into Gulf estuaries is decimating crab, oyster and shrimp populations. The brown shrimp catch this spring in Louisiana and Mississippi is already down by an estimated 80%, and oysters are completely wiped out in some of the most productive fishing grounds in the country, according to state and industry officials. The polluted freshwater has also triggered algae blooms, which have led to beach closures across Mississippi. “We are seeing impacts across the coast in all sectors of the fishing communities,” said Patrick Banks, assistant secretary for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “We will continue to collect data to support a disaster declaration.” It’s not just fisheries that are suffering. Dolphins have been dying in huge numbers across the region — nearly 300 this...
“Punch in the gut”: Midwest rains to create near-record dead zone in Gulf

“Punch in the gut”: Midwest rains to create near-record dead zone in Gulf

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: June 10 SNIP: As rain deluged the Midwest this spring, commercial fisherman Ryan Bradley knew it was only a matter of time before the disaster reached him. All that water falling on all that fertilizer-enriched farmland would soon wend its way through streams and rivers into Bradley’s fishing grounds in the Gulf of Mexico, off the Mississippi coast. The nutrient excess would cause tiny algae to burst into bloom, then die, sink and decompose on the ocean floor — a process that sucks all the oxygen from the water, turning it toxic. Fish would suffocate or flee, leaving Bradley and his fellow fishermen nothing to harvest. Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Louisiana State University confirmed Bradley’s worst fears in forecasts published Monday, predicting this spring’s record rainfall would produce one of the largest-ever “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico. An area the size of New Jersey could become almost entirely barren this summer, posing a threat to marine species — and the fishermen who depend on them. “It’s just a major punch in the gut,” said Bradley, a fifth-generation commercial fisherman from Long Beach, Miss. Bradley is executive director for Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, a nonprofit group that supports the state’s fishermen. Bradley said he plans to travel to Washington this month to ask federal lawmakers to declare a fisheries disaster, making relief funds available to affected fishermen. “To have a total wipeout,” he said, “which is what we’re going to have here now, I don’t know if our guys are going to be able to make it.” Nancy Rabalais,...
Downpours of torrential rain more frequent with global warming

Downpours of torrential rain more frequent with global warming

SOURCE: EurekAlert! and AGU DATE: June 3, 2019 SNIP: The frequency of downpours of heavy rain–which can lead to flash floods, devastation, and outbreaks of waterborne disease–has increased across the globe in the past 50 years, research led by the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has found. The number of extreme downpours increased steadily between 1964 and 2013–a period when global warming also intensified, according to research published in the journal Water Resources Research. The frequency of ‘extreme precipitation events’ increased in parts of Canada, most of Europe, the Midwest and northeast region of the U.S., northern Australia, western Russia and parts of China. Global warming can lead to increased precipitation because more heat in the atmosphere leads to more atmospheric water which, in turn, leads to rain. Torrents of rain not only lead to flooding, but can threaten public health, overwhelming sewage treatment plants and increasing microbial contaminants of water. More than half a million deaths were caused by rain-induced floods between 1980 and 2009. Heavy rain can also cause landslides, damage crops, collapse buildings and bridges, wreck homes, and lead to chaos on roads and to transport, with huge financial...
Midwest Flooding Exposes Another Oil Pipeline Risk — on Keystone XL’s Route

Midwest Flooding Exposes Another Oil Pipeline Risk — on Keystone XL’s Route

SOURCE: Inside Climate News DATE: May 16, 2019 SNIP: Standing on the banks of the Keya Paha River (Nebraska) where it cuts through his farm, Bob Allpress points across a flat expanse of sand to where a critical shut-off valve is supposed to rise from the Keystone XL pipeline once it’s buried in his land. The Keya Paha flooded several weeks ago, and when it did, the rush of newly melted water drove debris, sand and huge chunks of ice deep inland, mowing down trees and depositing a long wall of ice 6 feet high and 30 feet wide across Allpress’s property. “It would’ve taken out their shut-off valve,” Allpress said of the river flooding. “Right where they propose to put it at. And it wouldn’t have been a good thing.” If the Trump administration and the state of Nebraska have their way, the Keystone XL oil pipeline will be built, and about a mile of it will slice through Allpress’s 900-acre farm, where he and his brothers raise corn, alfalfa and cattle. Without adequate environmental review, grave risks such as flooding and erosion “haven’t been analyzed and the pipeline is going to go forward without agencies fully understanding risks and threats to the project,” said Doug Hayes, a lawyer for the Sierra Club, which is a plaintiff in the suits. The threat to pipelines from erosion prompted the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the federal regulator responsible for the safe operation of the country’s energy pipelines, to issue an advisory two weeks ago to pipeline owners. It urged them to institute safeguards after a recent spate of...
Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

Total Catastrophe For U.S. Corn Production: Only 30% Of U.S. Corn Fields Have Been Planted – 5 Year Average Is 66%

SOURCE: The Economic Collapse Blog [Take with a grain of salt, but the numbers are from the Department of Agriculture and are quite clearly problematic.] DATE: May 15, 2019 SNIP: 2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry. Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground. I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it. But it turns out that number is 100 percent accurate. And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly. In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2 percent of their yield. Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year. It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop progress reports, about 11% of Illinois corn has been planted and about 4% of soybeans. Last year at this time, 88% of corn and 56% of soybeans were in the ground. Sadly, global weather patterns are continuing to go haywire, and much more rain is coming to...