What just happened in Ohio?
A bunch of headlines announced: Ohio water is undrinkable because of toxic algae. That’s probably what you heard – but it’s not really the truth. It’s not algae – it’s us. That water is not undrinkable because algae went wild, it became toxic to humans even after having been boiled because of factory farming.
This may seem like a stretch so let’s look closer. Factory farms use a lot of synthetic chemicals – this takes me back to high school environmental science (Map of factory farms near Toledo). These chemicals are composed of a lot of two nutrients: phosphorus and nitrogen. Through runoff they made their way into lake Erie – this process is called eutrophication. The synthetic fertilizers also provide nutrients for the algae that is to blame for the toxic compound that makes the water undrinkable.
The problem is that this toxic chemical is not the only problem associated with eutrophication – it can lead to lower levels of oxygen in the water, kill fish, enhance the existence of decomposers, and really lead to smelly, polluted, and in this case toxic waterways.
So right now there is news and direct human affect from factory farming. Just because the water ban was lifted does not mean this problem is going away. We need to make a stand against this type of agriculture. This is happening with the GMO labeling movement. It’s also happening with more and more people buying organic produce. It’s easy to say that buying organic is too expensive but when you factor in the costs it takes to clean up the messes of factory farming, it’s obvious that there need to be serious alternatives suggested.
We can blame it solely microcystin, toxic algae, or we can take a more critical look at our own personal impact. There will be more of this to come, let’s protect what we have and be conscious of our everyday, every minute impact.