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Drowning in Plenty June 18, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Among the many ways we are dying here at the edge of America is the slow poisoning of the Gulf of Mexico by the farmers and lawn jockeys to the North and the subsequent loss of the seafood crop. Scientists once again gather to discuss what might be done about the flood of runoff nutrients from farms and lawns, runoff that results in massive algae blooms that kill off all the marine life in The Dead Zone.

While the result sounds like a Stephen King novel, it is not a fantasy. This year we expect 10,000 square miles to be empty of oxygen. What fish do not flee will die. According to the coastal advocacy group America’s Wetlands, Louisiana produces one-third of the nation’s seafood by dollar value, and is ranked second behind Alaska in by weight of seafood landed. In 1981, the value of those commerical fisheries was about $680 million. Sport fishing and constitute over $10 billion a year in economic activity. All of this is being taken away from us without compensation.

The simple fact is the Invisible Hand (and the men manipulating it from Washington) are perfectly happy to see prices for commodities like corn, wheat and soybeans triple over the last year or two. Much of this growth is inflated by corn-based ethanol, a blatant hoax to boost farm prices with no net reduction in energy consumption. It takes a lot of energy to grow corn and more to make it into ethanol. The end product is more expensive than gasoline and contains fewer BTUs (you burn more to go fewer miles). Then there is the problem of market speculators, deprived of their real estate gains, looking for some other way to make free money.

The end result is farmers who are flush with cash planting more acres in crops, rather than converting land into buffer zones to reduce runoff. There are no legal or economic consequences to this action, so the grain states of the mid-west grow wealthy off of the crop price boom, and our seafood industry dies from the resulting algae bloom.

If Congress doesn’t take some action, I have a simple solution. I proposed it before to force the federal government to compensate New Orleans for the damage caused by the Federal Flood. The state has the well established right to set pilotage fees. Set the fee for crop exports so high that they are no longer economically feasible. If any one suggests they would just take their crops to other ports, ask them where they plan to get the extra railroad cars necessary to move the crops that currently travel down the Mississippi by barge? Something I learned in North Dakota is there is a significant shortage of railway stock. A significant percentage of every year’s crop spoils on the ground when the grain elevators fill up because there aren’t enough cars to move the grain out.

If you would like a more reasonable suggestion: identify 10,000 square miles of potential buffer land currently in crops, and force them to take it out of production and plant and/or build buffer zones. (They can actually get paid for this when they plant marginal land in native plants because of the wildlife benefit).

When they rein in the farmers and give us our full share off shore revenue (and full compensation for the losses from the federal flood), we will let them have full use of the river again.

Comments»

1. Marco - June 18, 2008

It’s all bullshit scam and we’re taking it up the ass. The day is comin’.

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2. KamaAina - June 18, 2008

“ask them where they plan to get the extra railroad cars necessary to move the crops that currently travel down the Mississippi by barge?”

Flood-related news stories often show images of barges stranded on the upper Mississippi and its tributaries. As yet, no one has mentioned just where those barges are likely headed…

But please, I beg you, leave the lawn jockeys out of it. After all, it’s not their fault that the people who plant the lawns — and overfertilize them with the gunk that ends up in the Gulf — so often choose to adorn them with those painfully outdated, blatant symbols of racism!

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3. New Orleans News Ladder - June 19, 2008

Trains are stranded too as the bridges close across the Mississippi River. They ceased crossing Iowa yesterday, no tracks…we’re talking major freight, not just piddly ol’Amtrak. Trains come out of Chi Town across Iowa. You just can’t reroute like a truck, but there again many interstates are receiving buckling damage from the water…more? OK, appx 18,000 pig farms wiped across Iowa, Illinois and Indiana emptying into the Mississippi…hmmm what next…Oh, Bobbing for Propane tanks from the hundreds of little townlets along the banks you know from the back yard where they had the pigs and farm chemicals 55 Gal drums with little red diamonds on the side floating right down the middle of the channel of the Big Not Muddy, but viscous, soilent that is, flack’gold, subsidy tea. And the lawn jockeys you say they fertilize? Ever wonder why all them Hawkeyes planted lawn jockeys in the first place? ‘Cause they got no soul food. No pigment even before the flood has washed it away. So they plant all those lawn jockeys for the soul they imbue their yards But, as you say, they fertilized the little handy men until it got out of control. Now they grow as big as the Jolly Black Giants, Goliath Lil’Abners, the bills of their jockey hats shading out what crops are left from the floods as they stalk destruction downstream with the buzz of white’class pestilence behind the American Scream. Swingin their little hand’rings the jockeys chant to draw us out of our shelters: “Hum’on out y’all we got…betta’livin tru chemistry!” “Hum’on y’all…hum’on and pull my ring!”

Sorry…thanks y’all. I’ve so up into this flood that I just know that pigs will never fly.
Great post Noble Wet Guy. Kudos for managing the whole piece without mentioning our friends who may remain nameless upstream in the Land of Farma Subsidia.
Editilla

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4. New Orleans News Ladder - June 19, 2008

Unnn…yer on da’Ladda.

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