The Butterfly Effect

One of the reasons I chose to focus on agriculture for my climate change awareness app, was that synthetic nitrogen plays a role in oceanic dead zones. Dead zones are caused by a lack of oxygen and over accumulation of biomass (algae), and algae encouraged to grow by the synthetic nitrogen fertilizers we use to grow and maximize crop yields.

Over time the “nitrate-enriched groundwater makes its way into lakes, bays and oceans where it accelerates the growth of algae, disrupts the normal functioning of water ecosystems, and kills fish in a process called eutrophication (which may cause water to become cloudy and/or discolored — green, yellow, brown, or red). About half of all the lakes in the United States are now eutrophic, while the number of oceanic dead zonesnear inhabited coastlines are increasing.”