Dead Zone Opinion Paper

Published: 2021-09-14 12:05:11
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Category: Science

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"Dead zones" are oxygen-depleted areas along the coasts created by fertilizer and sewage runoff into waterways from the mainland. The Gulf of Mexico, which drains from the Mississippi watershed (more than 40 percent of the US mainland), is home to the largest "dead zone" in the United States and it is continuously growing by 5-10% per year (Quinlan). The Louisiana University Marine Consortium reported that the "dead zone" averages around 5,800 sq. miles every year (Texas A&M University). What can be done to help stop these increasing dead zones? Should the government restrict fertilizer use in the Mississippi watershed in order to reduce the size of the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico? The answer is no. While this would help reduce the size of the dead zone, there are more productive options. As the world becomes more industrialized, eating habits change, and populations grow, there is a larger need for agriculture whether it is to feed the masses or in order to create fuel (Venkataraman 2008). The restriction of pesticides is going to hurt farmers and their ability to produce the crops demanded by society. Along with this, the US goal of increasing biofuel is going to make it even more of a nuisance to restrict pesticide usage (American Chemical Society 2011). As opposed to cutting down on the use of pesticides, one expert suggests that farmers plant crops such "winter rye or winter wheat in cornfields during the off-season" to reduce the leaching of chemicals into the water way (Venkataraman 2008). Another solution is using eco-technology to combat this issue. This would involve "restoring and building wetlands and riparian buffer zones along waterways" in order to filter the chemicals out before they reach the waterways (Wagner 1998). These solutions would essentially clean the runoff before it enters the basin. The efforts needed to reverse this trend are dramatic and it is going to take more than just restricting the amount of fertilizer used by farmers in the US. Through the use of eco-technology and other natural ways of reducing the effects of pesticides farmers can continue to produce the same or more amounts of crops but as a lower risk to the Gulf.

References:

American Chemical Society (2009, September 18). Biofuel Production Could Undercut Efforts To Shrink Gulf 'Dead Zone'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 20, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090916103422.htm
Quinlan (2011, May 26). Largest-Ever Dead Zone 'a Disaster in the Making' for La. Fishermen, New York Times. Retrieved on July 20, 2010, from http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/05/26/26greenwire-largest-ever-dead-zone-a-disaster-in-the-makin-58843.html
Texas A&M University (2011, July 19). 2011 Gulf of Mexico 'dead zone' could be biggest ever. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 20,

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