Move Over Twilight Zone...
and Welcome to the Dead Zone *
By S.J. Robinson
[*This article was originally entitled “Food for Thought” but has been changed here for dramatic purposes. However, please be aware this article is NOT science fiction.]
We are told that our biggest problem today is Climate Change caused by Global Warming or (as I was taught growing up) by Holes in the Ozone Layer; yet, one of the greater challenges our planet is facing today is what is known as “Dead Zones” in the world’s oceans. These dead zones are being caused by large-scale pollution in the form of run-offs from highly-intensive factory farming practices. According Dr Mercola, a recent report by CBS Miami has highlighted that “nitrogen fertilizers and sewage sludge runoff from factory farms are responsible for creating a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico spanning more than 8,700 square miles – the largest recorded dead zone in the world”. To give you an idea of the scale of this ocean destruction, it is equivalent to an area the size of New Jersey in the US or almost the area of the province of Munster here in Ireland.
Dead Zones are exactly that – Deadly – and as the fertilizers run-off from farms into rivers, they creates algae blooms further downstream, which in turn alter the food chain and deplete the water system of vital oxygen. The resultant dead zones can have devastating effects, putting nearby Drinking Water, Fishing, Tourism and Marine Life all in jeopardy. Worse still, is that the Gulf of Mexico is not just a rare isolated incident, but marine destruction is so widespread that the American Association for the Advancement of Science estimated back in 2006 that if we don’t take corrective action urgently, then “commercial fisheries are expected to be finished by 2048” (AAAS in Mercola, 2017). And it’s not just our oceans that are in danger. Side by side with this challenge is a similar warning that large swathes of the world’s top soils are expected to be effectively destroyed within the next 60 years.
Prince Charles has already stated that “the very future of humanity may depend to a very large extent on a mainstream transition to more sustainable farming practices, based on of course on organic principles" and that eco-friendly practices may well be our only hope of reversing the damage done to the farmland and the environment (Hortidaily, 2017). As far back as 2011, he was already calling for a complete overhaul of our current farming practices which overwhelmingly favours intensive agriculture and the subsequent environment damage that ensues, noting too that it draws on “curiously perverse economic incentives” scheme of using taxpayer money to fund it (The Guardian, 2011). Previously addressing Big Agriculture on both sides of the Atlantic, he asked at a food conference in Washington DC, "Could there be benefits if public finance were redirected so that subsides are linked specifically to farming practices that are more sustainable, less polluting, and of wide benefit to the public interest?" (ibid).
As both earth and sea are being slowly poisoned, we also have another farming-related problem emerging – the decimation of our planet’s insect life. A report by the science journal, PLoS One, and highlighted by Mike Adams of Natural News, indicates that butterflies, wild bees, moths and the entire insect community are in significant decline, by 76% in just one generation. Insects play a vital role as nature’s pollinators and germinators, so the elimination of these species creates huge implications for organic agriculture and natural habitats as a whole. As reported by Natural News, the authors of the 27 year study in rural Germany have ruled out climate change and landscape as the contributing causes, moreover stating that: “Agricultural intensification (e.g. pesticide usage, year-round tillage, increased use of fertilizers and frequency of agronomic measures) that we could not incorporate in our analyses, may form a plausible cause.”
So is it really all bad news, with an impending “farmageddon” looming up ahead? As our world is metaphorically being pulled out from beneath our very feet, so too is the veil being lifted from over our eyes. No longer can something so potentially catastrophic continue to be ignored and the challenge is now far too great for Big Agriculture and Government to keep sweeping under the carpet. It is very clear Big Ag supports factory farms and not family farms, and is more concerned about its bottom line than it is about people or planet. Surely they have profited enough now from the destruction of our ecosystem and their total disregard for the generations to come? Can we really keep going at the rate we are going and expect there to be anything viable left? Contrary to popular mythology, Big Agriculture is not living up to its mantra of “feeding the world” if, at the same time, it is quite possibly destroying the planet in equal measure. Do the benefits of factory farming really outweigh its costs? And do we even know what the true costs are? If this Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico is any indication to go by, then all is not well with the “feeding the world” narrative.
Thankfully, all hope is not lost. We as consumers tend to forget the real power we have. It is people who stand in the way of Big Ag’s agenda. As long as people have voices, they can speak; and have hands, they can write letters; and have feet, they can stand in unity. As long as they have freedom of choice, they can support a different way; and freedom of conscience, then they can work together to create workable solutions to safeguard the planet for generations to come. Big Ag has done a great job of replacing family farms with factory farms, effectively removing the people who really care from the farm and from the land. But when you remove the people, in essence, you remove the very “heart” of farming itself. When families who are passionate about farming own the farms, then their heart goes into the animals they care for, and into the food they produce, and into the soil they are custodians over.
Consumer demand has always been the true driver change; and each time we choose to support organic and biodynamic farmers, we are casting a vote for a return to the family farm model over the factory farm model. When we do this, we are effectively bringing more people back into the equation, as organic farming practices by its very nature calls for people to be on the land and involved in a personal and meaningful way. The small changes we make daily may not seem like much, but they can produce lasting ripple effects, and collectively, these actions can cause seismic shifts that can ultimately redesign our world for the better.
To watch two short clips of what farming could ideally look like globally, check out:
- S.J. Robinson is the author of the PROJECT CODE-X TRILOGY of high-concept thrillers. For a limited time, get a special advance reader copy of her first book, by clicking HERE.
- For a list of sources for this article, see below. I also welcome any comments on this particular subject.
Text Copyright © 2017, S.J. Robinson. All rights reserved.
#DeadZones #GulfofMexico #FactoryFarming #FarmRunoff #Nitrogen #Fertilizers #BigAg #CommercialFisheries #CBSMiami #DrMercola #Topsoils #PrinceCharles #Organic #InsectLife #InsectBiomass #MikeAdams #Biodynamic #FamilyFarms #OrganicValley
Gulf of Mexico Now Largest Dead Zone in the World, and Factor Farming to Blame, Dr Mercola (2017) https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/10/17/factory-farms-blamed-for-dead-zone-gulf-of-mexico.aspx
Prince Charles takes on agricultural lobbies on both sides of Atlantic, The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/may/05/prince-charles-sustainable-agriculture-farming
Prince Charles: "Future of humanity may depend on organic farming", Hortidaily.com http://www.hortidaily.com/article/36009/Prince-Charles-Future-of-humanity-may-depend-on-organic-farming
The global ecosystem is rapidly collapsing… insect biomass plummets 75% in one generation, NaturalNews.com (2017) http://scientific.news/2017-10-19-the-global-ecosystem-is-collapsing-insect-biomass-decline-decimation-pollinators-scientists.html
More than 75% Decline over 27 Years in Total of Flying Insect Biomass in Protected Areas, Caspar A. Hallmann et.(2017) http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0185809
By 2048 all current fish, seafood species projected to collapse, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-11/aaft-b2a102706.php
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