Deadbeats and Dead Zones!
I don't know about you guys; but, I am appalled by our response to the damage created by hurricane Katrina. Not just the terrible suffering that hundreds of thousands of citizens have suffered, or the fact that deadbeat leaders of our country stayed on vacation (Dick) or went to Broadway shows (Condi) as the hurricane was destroying entire swathes of this country. Neither (as if that weren't enough) am I merely outraged by the lack of preparedness, the censorship, or the pathetic spin the government has engaged in since the debacle, or the tens of billions of dollars we have obviously wasted on being (ill-) prepared for such a calamity. No, I am also outraged by the fact that no one seems to be taking issue with the fact that we are partly to blame for this disaster. Did you know that every mile of wetlands can absorb 1-3 feet of storm surge? And, that we have lost over 25 miles of wetlands along the Gulf Coast in the last fifty years? Let's see here, Katrina produced a 20-foot storm surge, and we have cut down or destroyed 25 miles of wetlands. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that our callous disregard for nature has once again, in this case, killed a few thousand of us!
Despite what they might say, the current powers that be are directly responsible and now, as billions of dollars are being poured into reconstruction, are we even acknowledging that natural reconstruction of wetlands is vital if we are to ensure that this never happens again? No. And, the press isn't challenging anyone on the issue either.
Not only do wetlands absorb storm surge, but they are a vital filter for nutrients to be absorbed before they reach the ocean. Today, in the Gulf of Mexico, there is a dead zone the size of New Jersey during the hot summers. A dead zone is an area that has very low amounts of oxygen, due to an influx of nutrients (in this case from the Mississippi River carrying fertilizer and waste from farms in America's heartland), and therefore cannot support aquatic life.
Basically, nutrients cause huge algal blooms at the surface of the water. When the algae dies, it floats to the bottom where bacteria consume it and, in doing so, deplete almost all the oxygen. Everything that can't swim out of the area suffocates. The Gulf of Mexico isn't the only place where this happens â€” fully one-third of the nation's estuaries experience a complete loss of oxygen in the summers.
What can you do? Learn more about these issues by visiting www.coastaid.org. CoastAid is dedicated to educating people about the destruction of wetlands along the Louisiana coast.
In addition, please support the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Visit the Red Cross to help ease the terrible suffering of so many.
And don't forget to visit PETsMART Charities at http://www.petsmart.com/charities/about_us/about_us.shtml to help the often forgotten victims of this disaster.