The name sounds like it’s from bad science fiction. I remember hearing about Dead Zones in my high school biology and geography classes. One of the largest is located in the Gulf of Mexico and consists of an area roughly the size of New Jersey. At the mouth of the Mississippi river, a large amount of fresh water flows into the Ocean. But not only is fresh water coming in, but run off water from large farming operations in the midwest. The fertilizer rich water hits the Ocean and causes a food chain march which leads to hypoxia, a lack of oxygen in the water.
This year, the dead zone was predicted to grow to record levels of size. Recently released data showed the dead zone not as large as expected, but more severe. In the end, it covered only 3000 square miles.
At what point do we stop ignoring the cost of our way of life? Today, the Gulf of Mexico dead zone directly threatens $2.8 billion worth of US fishing industry. Put another way, 99 cent cheeseburgers threaten to destroy the option for a slightly more expensive, but much healthier, grilled fish sandwich.