The “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is a human-created area where pollutants, large nitrate and phosphates from excess fertilization of crops, eat up all of the oxygen in the water. All marine life in that area — this year about the size of Massachusetts — dies from suffocation.
The dead zone can be reduced but only by a concerted effort to take a more organic approach to growing crops that doesn’t use chemicals to hype production and to reduce pests, insects, and other problems. At a time when flooding is making much of normal crop land unplantable and heat is reducing production by limiting growth and pollination, using more fertilizer can be very tempting. Yet another battle between the now and the future.