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BEST-L  July 2008

BEST-L July 2008

Subject:

Re: Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" to hit record size: NOAA

From:

bruderly <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

bruderly <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 16 Jul 2008 13:55:28 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (165 lines)

BESTers
This is a classic example of how the rules of journalism use fuzzy logic to
misinterpret the facts and use sloppy analysis of the science to write a
"news" article that obscures reality and confuses the general public. This
month a headline slamming ethanol will get the story on the front page.

Follow the logic used by this writer:
1. Farm soil erosion, storm water runoff and flooding pollutes the
Mississippi River with nutrients.
2  Nutrient loading in Mississippi River water has created a "Dead Zone" in
the Gulf of Mexico.
3. Corn grown on mid-western farms is used to make ethanol.
4. Therefore ethanol production is stated to be the "main" cause of the Dead
Zone. The implication is that corn grown for cattle feed, export to India or
conversion to cornflakes is not is NOT a cause of the Dead Zone.

WRONG.

The cause of increased nutrient loading via our inland rivers and ocean
waters is NOT the end use of the commodity, i.e. the production of corn
ethanol.

As Steve points out, the causes of increased nutrient loading to surface
waters are the farming, chemical management, land management and flood plain
management practices used by farmers and federal, state and local
governments.

The use of corn to make ethanol could be banned tomorrow and farmers would
still continue to grow corn and soybeans and other grains using
unsustainable agricultural and land management practices that cause severe
nutrient pollution of surface and ground waters. The nutrient loading
problem that must be solved is caused by unsustainable floodplain
management, farming and land management practices that are used to maximize
yields, minimize total costs and maximize profits.

There are many reasons why the production of ethanol from corn as currently
practiced in most distilleries in the Midwest is NOT sustainable. Blaming
ethanol for bad land use and management practices confuses the general
public and obscures the real causes of the problem.

When are journalists going to start digging deeper to understand the science
and do a little critical thinking before they write "news" stories that
obscure facts create spin that just reinforces the fuzzy logic
perception-of-the-month.

dave


David E. Bruderly, PE
Bruderly Engineering Associates, Inc.
920 SW 57th Drive
Gainesville, Florida 32607-3838
352-377-0932
www.cleanpowerengineering.com
http://www.bruderly.com/about.php
 
 
 
-----Original Message-----
From: Bioenergy and Sustainable Technology Society
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Humphrey,Stephen R
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 1:01 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" to hit record size: NOAA

Folks:  Just to expand the subject a bit, keep in mind that more than 200
such dead zones are recognized globally.  While the particular causes in the
Gulf of Mexico case are probably correctly identified, there is a globally
coherent story involving the practices of high-density civilization, not
properly told in the article.  The story of the great Mayan civilization
comes to mind.


Dr. Stephen R. Humphrey, Director of Academic Programs,
School of Natural Resources and Environment,
Box 116455, 103 Black Hall, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL  32611-6455  USA
Tel. 352-392-9230, Fax 352-392-9748
http://snre.ufl.edu


-----Original Message-----
From: Bioenergy and Sustainable Technology Society
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Fricker, Kyle J
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 12:19 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" to hit record size: NOAA

BEST -

Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" to hit record size: NOAA Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:19pm
BST

By Chris Baltimore

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone" -- a swath of
algae-laden water with oxygen levels low enough to choke out marine life --
will likely reach record size this year, and the main culprits are rising
ethanol use and massive Midwest flooding, scientists said on Tuesday.

The dead zone, which recurs each year off the Texas and Louisiana coasts,
could stretch to more than 8,800 square miles

this year -- about the size of New Jersey -- compared with 6,662 square
miles in 2006 and nearly double the annual average since 1990 of 4,800
square miles.

Scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University said
the algae that lowers oxygen levels in the dead zone is being fed by farm
use of fertilizers like nitrogen and phosphorus.

For fishermen who look to the Gulf of Mexico for crabs, shrimp, crawfish and
other seafood, the growing dead zone means they must venture farther out
into the gulf's waters to find their catch.

The record dead zone is due to soaring use of ethanol in U.S.
motor gasoline supplies and by massive flooding in the Midwest earlier this
year, scientists said.

"We're planting an awful lot of corn and soybeans," said Eugene Turner, a
scientist at Louisiana State University. "It rinses off easily when there is
a rain."

One-third of this year's U.S. corn crop, or 4 billion bushels, will go to
make the alternate fuel ethanol, the U.S. government has projected, compared
to 3 billion bushels of the 2007 crop.

The dead zone starts in Midwestern corn country when farmers fertilize their
fields with nitrogen. The fertilizer run-off flows down the Mississippi
River into the Gulf of Mexico, making algae bloom on the surface and cutting
oxygen to creatures that live on the bottom.

Substances in this runoff include the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus,
which can stimulate the growth of algae. These algae settle and decay in the
bottom waters of the Gulf, and the bacteria that decompose them gobble up
oxygen faster than it can be replenished from the surface, which means lower
levels of dissolved oxygen in the water.

U.S. scientists estimate that a record 83,000 tons of phosphorus seeped into
the Gulf of Mexico from April through June, up to 85 percent above normal
seasonal levels.

"Excess nutrients from the Mississippi River watershed during the spring are
the primary human-influenced factor behind the expansion of the dead zone,"
said Rob Magnien, director of the NOAA Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean
Research.

To reverse the pattern, U.S. farmers must plant more perennial crops that
trap rainwater and keep it from running into the Gulf of Mexico, Turner
said.

And eventually, scientists need to invent new breeds of perennial corn
plants that can remain in the soil from one planting season to the next,
avoiding the need to strip fields bare and leave them susceptible to
flooding, he said.

(Reporting by Chris Baltimore, editing by Anthony Boadle)

http://uk.reuters.com/article/marketsNewsUS/idUKN1533337620080715?pageNumber
=2
--
Kyle J. Fricker
Chemical Engineering
University of Florida

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