Monday, September 19, 2005

Toxic Gumbo, the Dead Zone Delta, & the MIssissippi

Others have already posted or written on this. I'll supply links when I can.

My contribution to this topic is to highlight the thoroughly un-individualistic nature of human activity in nature. Beginning at the headwaters of the Mississippi up here in Minnesota, the Gulf Coast is deeply interconnected to what we in Minnesota and everyone downstream puts into the mighty, but greatly toxic river. Fish advisories are quite telling. What I can personally attest to is that in 1979 the fish in the river in Illinois were already not fit to eat. Too many of them had open sores on their bodies. I have no idea what caused the open sores but I wasn't going to eat them. This is over 25 years ago and so far, our rivers are no better even if we do not see them catch on fire anymore.

The stretch of the Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans is known as Cancer Alley. The Gulf coast stretching from the mouth of the Mississippi and moving west along the Gulf shore is a "dead zone" where fish and other marine life die from lack of oxygen. This is caused by the nitrogen that make algae blooms which the bacteria eat when the algae dies and that takes out the oxygen.

And this doesn't even include all the petroleum, by-products, and toxic waste that ends up in the river. No wonder people are getting cancer at higher rate than the national average along Cancer Alley.

We need to move to a wholly different model on which to base human activity. We must cease being a purely profit seeking critter and instead seek our humanity, both individually and collectively, and live as if life is actually worth living and enjoying rather than as an escape from work and boredom.

I want good food, clean water, and a healthy planet. I just don't think this will happen while humans remain in existence unless there is a profound change in the collective consciousness. I remain hopeful but not very optimistic.