Almanac

Viewpoint - August 18, 2010

Letter: Another deadly spill in the Gulf is ignored

The good news from the Gulf of Mexico is that the oil-spouting BP well has finally been sealed, and that the devastating impacts of the massive oil spill on beaches, wildlife habitats, and marine ecosystem are gradually abating. The bad news is that there are no immediate plans to abate a much larger, deadlier, and continuing spill smothering life in the Gulf.

Each day, the Mississippi River dumps into the Gulf of Mexico millions of tons of animal waste from Midwest factory farms and animal feed croplands. The nitrates in animal waste and fertilizer runoff produce vast algal blooms that suck up oxygen from the water, killing all marine life. The pesticides seal the deal. According to Wikipedia, the resulting "dead zone" extends over 8,500 square miles, roughly three times the size of the BP oil slick.

We react dramatically to unanticipated threats like the BP oil spill and accidental deaths. Yet we tend to accept and tolerate the much more damaging, but routine, threats from animal waste discharges and deaths from killer diseases linked to meat and dairy-laden diets.

Miles Barne, Sharon Park Drive, Menlo Park

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