Dead Zones

US News & World Report story

It seems there is another unintended consequence of the race to get as much ethanol to the market as quickly as possible. According to the article, acquatic dead zones are growing quickly and scientists link this to extensive increases in fertilizer use. As farms scrabble to keep up with food and fuel demand, they have to use more fertilizer than ever before.

These dead zones are said to be hurting yields of the various fishing industries in the Gulf of Mexico. Naturally, fertilizer run off would be an issue even if we weren’t trying to produce ethanol, but the story plausibly suggests that pressure of having to produce food for a growing population and still have leftovers from ethanol is exacerbating the situation. This reflects why human complacency regarding the sustainability of our society is dangerous. Fertilizers have helped increase yields, but if we don’t act now to manage the runoff, the negative impact on fishing may mean that we get diminishing returns in terms of total food production.


One Response

  1. […] ethanol market, they will need to use more fertilizers,3 adding to carbon emissions and the problem of dead zones resulting from fertilizer […]

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