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Coral bleaching is on the rise thanks to warming waters throughout the world due to global warming and man-made chemicals dumped into our waters.  As the world heats up, our fresh water ice caps melt.  Devastating consequences due to global warming include fresh water entering our oceans’ natural currents from the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets.  This fresh water slows down the oceans’ natural salt water flow, and will eventually halt our oceans’ currents causing even bigger problems for humanity!

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That is a whole different story, however it relates to increasing dead zones in saltwater and freshwater bodies thanks to man-made global warming due to the burning of finite fossil fuels.  Global warming and the dumping and runoff of man-made chemicals are destroying the Gulf of Mexico, oceans, seas and large freshwater sources like the Great Lakes.  Our world relies on these waters to help sustain our seafood supplies and shrinking sources of freshwater which are vital to help sustain a overpopulated earth.

Let’s take a look at one specific area, the Gulf of Mexico, which explains why we are experiencing massive coral reef bleaching, and the deaths and disappearances of fish and other sea creatures.

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The most current map of dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico may not reflect BP’s massive oil spill on April 20, 2010.  It does not take into consideration that BP’s oil spill killed off a large, untold number of species of ocean dwellers like the 29 marine mammals that live in the gulf including dolphins and whales.  Why does the Gulf of Mexico have huge areas where the waters are devoid of most or all living organisms? There are two main reasons.

One factor is the shallow water depths in the Gulf of Mexico which is the world’s ninth largest body of water if technically separated from the Atlantic Ocean.  The average water temperature of the gulf during the summer months ranges from the upper 70′s to upper 80′s.  90 degree waters are not uncommon, and marine life cannot live in what is close to bath water temperatures for humans!  Why do you think hurricanes that enter the gulf during the warm months gain so much energy?  The weather systems have two forces that they need which are extremely warm water and hot temperatures to help them morph from a tropical storm into a enormously destructive hurricane.  Global warming has caused not just air temperatures to rise but water temperatures to increase as well.  Coral reefs are fragile, and they cannot live in such a warm, polluted environment.

The other synthetic reason why our oceans and the Gulf of Mexico are experiencing slow to rapid die-offs of coral reefs and the various forms of marine life that rely on them as a inter-connected life support system is man-made chemical waste.  Is it just coincidence that the ‘Dead Zone’ in the gulf is near where the Mississippi River flows into it?  Fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide run-off from farms flow into tributaries of the Mississippi River and directly into the river itself.  Industrial farms and factories have uncontrolled flows of pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorous that ultimately end up in the Gulf of Mexico where they create algae blooms and oxygen depletion.  No oxygen = no life.  Other major toxins enter our waters via illegal dumping of chemical waste that companies purposely do, because they do not want to deal with the expense of properly disposing of their garbage or toxic waste.  Any trash that enters the Mississippi River will end up in the Gulf of Mexico, and it will kill or scare off all marine life, thus creating ‘Dead Zones.’

What about what is already in the Gulf of Mexico?  That limited source of energy that we spend more energy to get at than what it actually produces:  Oil!  Take a look at the number of oil platforms in the gulf along with their locations, and think about the tainting of water and the life in it due to drilling for oil!

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Then acknowledge that drilling for oil results in oil spills which have a profound and lasting effect on the environment in general including the Gulf of Mexico:

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This is a U.S. problem, but it is not limited to just America!  Take a look at the dead zones throughout the world as we heat up, melt away, and pollute like there is no tomorrow!

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Notice that even the Great Lakes, the world’s largest source of freshwater, is in trouble directly due to pollution including plastics!  There are vast areas in the oceans too that are nothing more than giant, floating garbage dump sites!  This is the way we treat our planet, and the dying of our oceans’ and other waterways’ is akin to the ‘Canary in the Coalmine’ scenario.  Unless we drastically alter the course of society’s sails, then we are in for some rough waters ahead!

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by John E Loeffler – Fountain City, Wisconsin

Sources:  http://serc.carleton.edu/microbelife/topics/deadzone/index.html

http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/bp-gulf-oil-spill-cheat-sheet-a-timeline-of-unfortunate-events.html

http://marinelife.about.com/od/habitatprofiles/tp/GulfofMexicoMarineLife.htm

http://www.ehow.com/list_6330428_ten-largest-bodies-water.html

http://weather.weatherbug.com/beach-and-boating/coastal-water-temperatures.html?bb_regionid=4&zcode=z6286

http://weather.weatherbug.com/beach-and-boating/coastal-water-temperatures.html?bb_regionid=5&zcode=z6286

http://deepseanews.com/2010/06/oil-platforms-in-the-gulf-how-many-and-who-owns-them/

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