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The Dead Zone

No, this blog isn’t about zombies. It actually covers a subject much more frightening than the walking dead of fiction. Though the Gulf of Mexico is on the opposite side of the country from Puerto Vallarta, what happens there does not stay there. The Dead Zone has a profound effect on all of us, no matter where we live in Mexico, or anywhere else in the world.

This summer of 2019 NOAA scientists have a dismal forecast for the Gulf. The “dead zone” or hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico is one of low-to-zero oxygen, which kills marine life. It covers a land mass area about the size of the state of Massachusetts; approximately 7,829 square miles. The statistic derived from a yearly prediction founded on a U.S. Geological Survey of river flow and nutrient statistics.

Due to the extremely high spring rainfall in the Mississippi watershed this year, river flow spilling into the Gulf of Mexico is at an all time high. The result is an overgrowth of algae, which dies, sinks, and decomposes, bringing an outcome of low oxygen levels and lack of nourishment for marine life. The root cause is, of course, the result of human activities, urbanization, and agriculture; and even though these events occur annually, these record highs are great cause for concern.

Consider that the discharge into the tributary rivers has risen approximately 67% in less than four decades. With this flow, 156,000 metric tons of nitrate and 25,300 metric tons of phosphorus were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico in May 2018 alone. Pure poison to ocean flora and fauna.

While the assumption of forecasters rests on typical coastal weather patterns, typical simply doesn’t exist anymore. Hence predictions of disastrous results are difficult to measure. Wind events, tropical storms and hurricanes are not easy to give long range calculations but one thing is for certain; these events are likely to occur with an increase in frequency. In the bigger picture, this phenomenon is only going to occur more often and The Dead Zone will grow exponentially.

What can you do about it?

The simplest solutions are working on your own habits for the sustainability of your environment, regardless of whether you live, in Puerto Vallarta, elsewhere in Mexico, or the United States. The flow into the Gulf of Mexico originates in thirty-one states and two Canadian Provinces. Wherever you live, you must realize that your actions are long term and far reaching. Teach climate awareness to whoever will listen and do your part.

Que es cómo es.

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