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Toxic Algae Threatens Florida's Gulf Coast

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the bigger-than-rhode-island-and-providence-plantations dept.

Earth 99

As reported by Discovery News, After Toledo had to temporarily ban residents from using tap water last weekend because of a toxic algae bloom on Lake Erie, you probably figured that we’d filled the quota of bad algae-related news for the summer. No such luck, unfortunately. Off the Gulf Coast of Florida, the biggest red tide bloom seen in Florida in nearly a decade already has killed thousands of fish. The bloom, which contains the microorganism Karenia brevis, may pose a public health threat to Floridians if it washes ashore, which is expected to happen in the next two weeks, according to Reuters. NBC News says this is the largest such bloom seen since 2006 — approximately 50 x 80 miles.

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KARENIA BEAVIS!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644317)

first huh huh huh
heh heh heh heeeaaeeeeaahhh heh

So... (1)

thieh (3654731) | about 3 months ago | (#47644329)

Does it have anything to do with the BP oil spill?

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

Kuroji (990107) | about 3 months ago | (#47644341)

Unlikely. Fertilizer runoff from farms being dumped in a body of water will help algae growth, that's a very large part of what happened in Ohio, because apparently farmers in Ohio are fucking retards who think dumping manure on fields that are FROZEN OVER is a good idea and that it won't just all wash out into the lake there.

Petroleum isn't going to have the same effect by a long shot. There is no algae that eats oil.

Spoiler Alert: FTA (5, Informative)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#47644503)

Red Tide, which happens in other coastal areas as well, is a phenomenon that's been occurring for centuries.

Undoubtedly, there are anthropogenic influences on this and every facet of the environment. Rightfully so, restrictions on fertilizer use are already in place, or pending in, affected areas.

Though it is inconvenient and unprofitable in the short term, the collective conscience of the governed requires the governors to care about and remedy shit like this.

Re:Spoiler Alert: FTA (3, Funny)

penguinoid (724646) | about 3 months ago | (#47644937)

shit like this.

He means "fertilizer".

Re:Spoiler Alert: FTA (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47645017)

Phosphate fertilizer is not that soluble to wash off like that, compared to old school phosphate detergents. I think it's more like somebody deliberately dumping soluble sodium phosphate and salicyl chelated iron fertilizers to create algal booms on purpose, to entice people into some carbon-neutral biofuel future (as nobody really likes the nuclear proliferation alternative), as in ocean farming or something, inside a big plastic bag of water floating on top of the ocean. But they say I'm just paranoid, not every frigging thing in the world is a conspiracy. And they would be right, but one has to keep the possibility in mind.

Re:Spoiler Alert: FTA (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47645247)

What if the proliferation of conspiracy theories is actually the result of a disinformation-spreading conspiracy to divide and sidetrack those who might otherwise organize to resist an otherwise relatively mundane agenda?

Re:Spoiler Alert: FTA (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 3 months ago | (#47645477)

A meta-conspiracy.

Re:Spoiler Alert: FTA (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 3 months ago | (#47651193)

Which is just what they want you to think.

Re:Spoiler Alert: FTA (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47658883)

I said NOT every friggin thing in the world is a conspiracy, or they say, and I said they would be right. But one has to keep the aji, the latent possibility, in the back of one's mind.

Re:Spoiler Alert: FTA (1)

mspohr (589790) | about 3 months ago | (#47647561)

The Cleveland toxic algae bloom was due to farm phosphorous runoff. It seems that the restrictions on phosphorous in laundry detergent worked for a while but the farmers found a way around the regulations and dumped too much shit (literally) into the lake.
Clearly a need for more government regulation. I don't think the "free market" can take care of this...

Re:Spoiler Alert: FTA (1)

Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) | about 3 months ago | (#47647683)

Out here on the West Coast, all it takes to get a good dinoflagellate bloom going is ocean water temperature a bit higher than normal. A variety of factors can contribute to this, including El Nino, lower than normal winter rainfall, increased air temperature, weakening of the longshore current. Of course in the Southeast, consideration of climate change is illegal in many states. In Florida, it's probably easiest to blame it on Cuban Communists.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644513)

Sounds like a great product idea!

I'll get Monsanto on the case. We'll provide the initial spawn, and sue anyone that grows them themselves instead of buying a second crop off us.

We'll be rich!

captcha: plunders

Re:So... (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 3 months ago | (#47645021)

Fuck Monsanto!

Can be dangerous for humans (5, Informative)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | about 3 months ago | (#47644533)

And when it is a red tide... red tinged algal bloom... it is almost always very harmful [wikipedia.org] and contaminates all the shell fish in the affected area making them toxic to humans [wikipedia.org] ... highly toxic [wikipedia.org] . And the effect can last for years. Being sea water people are not likely to drink it, so that is one difference from Ohio.

Re:Can be dangerous for humans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645949)

One way that people can get exposed to red tides other than eating contaminated seafood is from aerosols, such as sea spray on a windy day. So it can be hazardous during the bloom even if you're not eating anything. At least those effects dissipate pretty much the moment the bloom ends.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644599)

What's that fertilizer made out of? Petroleum.

Re:So... (3)

Kuroji (990107) | about 3 months ago | (#47644701)

Fertilizer is among its many byproducts, but raw petroleum is not going to work as fertilizer and requires quite a bit of processing in order to split into the products that we use today.

This has been an ongoing problem, periodically, if you'll recall. And the use of fertilizers is only increasing. The oil spill didn't contribute, it's causing its own problems but this is not one of them.

Re:So... (4, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | about 3 months ago | (#47645269)

There is no algae that eats oil.

Maybe no algae, but plenty of bacteria do.

Anyway, don't discount the number of farmers in Canada who've done the same thing with manure, and screw up the lakes too. There was a farmer upstream of Pittock Dam [wikipedia.org] , who used to do the same thing. Took the ministry of environment(MoE) in Ontario nearly 25 years to "get around" to finally fine the dumb bastard. Or as many people put it, "the dumb french bastard." Since dumping manure on frozen ground is very common in Quebec as well.

Re:So... (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 3 months ago | (#47645537)

There's no ice in Queensland, the prevailing ocean currents go south and are replenished by clean water from the coal sea. However fertilizer runoff has been the barrier reef's #1 enemy for decades. We don't get red-tides so much but the runoff triggers the regular crown of thorns plagues [aims.gov.au] whose larvae eat the algae, then as adults eat the coral. The plagues can and do occur naturally, usually after floods from cyclones. The fertilizer both amplifies and increases the frequency of the plagues to the point were the reef does not have enough time between plagues to fully recover.

The reef's in the Caribbean and mediterranean were already heavily damaged when Jack Cousteau was swimming around taking notes in the 60's. Since then Science has discovered that a healthy reef actually has the majority of its biomass stored in large fish such as sharks, a severely degraded reef has the majority of its biomass stored in small fast growing invertebrates and weeds. The only reason the filthy Ganges river has not destroyed the Seychelles and other pristine reefs nearby is that it's mouth is clogged with thousands of acres of mangroves that act as a natural (and extremely efficient) water filter.

Nearly all marine biologists will tell you the answer to the serious problem of collapsing fisheries is to set aside marine parks in specific locations that would cover approximately 5% of the world's coastline and some specific deep sea ridges, virtually everyone else will say there's "plenty of fish in the sea".

Ganges to Seychelles is over 2500 miles! (1)

Bruce66423 (1678196) | about 3 months ago | (#47646425)

The point about filtering is well made, but to believe that 2500 miles of ocean is not enough to disperse the gunk seems pessimistic!

Re:So... (1)

torsmo (1301691) | about 3 months ago | (#47646467)

only reason the filthy Ganges river has not destroyed the Seychelles & other pristine reefs nearby/quote The Ganges-Brahmaputra delta is over 5000 kms away from Seychelles. The only "nearby" reefs are in the Andaman islands (still a distance of over 1200 kms).

Re:So... (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47645947)

There is no algae that eats oil.

It's unfortunate, mostly for you, that you cannot imagine second-order effects. For example, what if the oil (or dispersant) is killing off something which normally retards the algae? Farmers, landscapers, and homeowners use too much fertilizer every year, but there isn't a toxic bloom of this scope every year.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47646219)

It's not petroleum that is causing the effects, it's the corexit. That does have these effects on algae.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47647145)

Actually run off from farmers in Ohio has been on the decline for decades, started back when people saw issues in the Maumee river... You think farmers are going to spend good money on ferts just to let them run off into other areas? Nah, they've got the measurements down pat.

Furthermore - it's the phosphates that are causing the problems - not nitrogen. And if you look - almost the entire stretch of coast is either park or protected wildlife reserves - not much in the way of farming land.

Re:So... (1)

eric_harris_76 (861235) | about 3 months ago | (#47648643)

Or not [mentally handicapped] but simply responding to perverse incentives provided by our omniscient, all-wise legislative and regulatory overlords.

One such example -- right down to the manure on frozen ground detail -- is given in a book on organic farming, "Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal". Well-meaning environmental activists got the law (or regulation, I forget which) they'd asked for. But there were unintended consequences, bad ones. Repealing the law (or rescinding the regulation) would have meant declaring an environmentalist victory a mistake, and nobody involved wanted that.

Well, the wildlife in Chesapeake Bay would have.

But they're not as important as the egos and careers of those who got what they asked for (but not what they wanted).

Re:So... (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 3 months ago | (#47644391)

These red tide problems have been going on for decades, long before the oil spill. The oil spill has been devastating but I dont think its causing this.

Re:So... (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 3 months ago | (#47647645)

These red tide problems have been going on for decades, long before the oil spill. The oil spill has been devastating but I dont think its causing this.

To the best of my knowledge, there have been red tides there since before the Spaniards hit the beaches.

The question here, as in so many other cases, isn't whether it's something new, but whether people have been doing things that make it more intense and/or more frequent.

And since it's not a simply provable binary condition, people will argue about it.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644467)

Nope. and before you ask, it doesn't have anything to do with the NYC police killing Eric Garner either.

Re:So... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#47644685)

I am certain there's a plausible six degrees of separation link that you're overlooking.

Re: So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47646177)

Wait, so you're saying all of this is Kevin Bacon's fault?

Re: So... (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 3 months ago | (#47647659)

Wait, so you're saying all of this is Kevin Bacon's fault?

Everything is Kevin Bacon's fault. Remember, no more than 6 degrees of separation between Bacon and the leaders of Al-Qaeda.

Examine the metadata. Why doesn he hate our Freedoms???!!

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645999)

No. Red tides have been occurring in that part of the Gulf area for ages [wikipedia.org] (centuries at least), and most of the oil from the BP spill is degraded or stuck in the sediment on the sea floor by now. It wouldn't supply the kind of nutrients that are thought to encourage these blooms anyway (mainly phosphorus and nitrates). The suspicion is that farm fertilizer and sewage runoff into the Gulf is increasing the frequency of algal blooms generally, and this is not the only area. Similar problems have occurred in the Carolinas, such as Chesapeake Bay, although different toxic dinoflagellate species [wikipedia.org] are involved there.

Re:So... (1)

azav (469988) | about 3 months ago | (#47646755)

Red tide blooms are an over reproduction of a type of phytoplankton. This is a world wide phenomenon and though there are many ideas why this happens, we don't have conclusive indicators why yet.

Crimson Tide in Florida? (4, Funny)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 3 months ago | (#47644355)

nope....Gators come to Tuscaloosa next month.

Re:Crimson Tide in Florida? (2)

wooferhound (546132) | about 3 months ago | (#47645265)

Roll Tide

Re:Crimson Tide in Florida? (1)

Rotag_FU (2039670) | about 3 months ago | (#47648277)

Either we will actually field an offense this year and make games against powerhouse teams like 'Bama competitive (not saying we will win, but at least won't be embarrassed) or we will continue to get stomped and get a new coach next year. Either way, win-win for the Gators. :)

Re:Crimson Tide in Florida? (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | about 3 months ago | (#47645527)

It's remnants of the Red Weed from when the martians attacked.

Re:Crimson Tide in Florida? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 3 months ago | (#47645547)

Are they planning to retire in Montana too?

Re:Crimson Tide in Florida? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645723)

I'm no fan of the Crimson Tide, but everyone knows that Florida is going to get raped by Alabama.

Exhibit A [youtube.com] . I rest my case.

Re:Crimson Tide in Florida? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47647251)

This is a shocking post on slash dot... a nerd that likes sports?! How dare you sir!

Toxic Algae Threatens Florida's Gulf Coast (2)

Fear the Clam (230933) | about 3 months ago | (#47644359)

And those are just the Yankee fans from Queens.

Re:Toxic Algae Threatens Florida's Gulf Coast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47646899)

And those are just the Yankee fans from Queens.

ROFLOL

An economic and environmental disaster (5, Informative)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 3 months ago | (#47644361)

The smell from this can be horrendous and is bad for tourism. Several counties on the West coast of Florida have issued restrictions on the use of fertilizers. The fertilizers used on lawns is blamed for the red tide outbreaks by feeding the organisms, it is believed. The effect on the environment can be harmful in depleting and causing population loss of fish and other species. A large portion of the runoff of fertilizer is from entirely ornamental landscape applications, a complete waste of resources, especially considering the issue of Phosphate depletion. I would like to see a broad restrictions on such fertilizers except for production of food crops. That some people would waste the resource nd threaten the ecosystem, for the vanity of a perfect green yard is outrageous. In Florida, they often use grass species which are pretty much impossible to keep going without these massive applications, such as St. Augustine. When you stop throwing the chemicals on the yard, the St. Augustine will mostly go away.

Phosphates (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644465)

Let's not forget phosphate mines, or leaks: e.g., Piney Point, Jeb Bush & Friends

http://www.thebradentontimes.com/news/2011/06/22/environment/piney_point_1966_2011_a_retrospective/#.U-gRnviGTgA

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/huge-red-tide-algae-bloom-could-move-ashore-florida-n175506

Re:Phosphates (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644473)

posted wrong link: http://www.sptimes.com/2003/07/06/Tampabay/A_140_million_mess.shtml

http://baysoundings.com/legacy-archives/sum02/pineypt.html

Synthetic Grass (1)

labnet (457441) | about 3 months ago | (#47644481)

One reason I turfed my backyard with artificial turf.
I was sick of weeds, animals digging in it, mowing it, fertilizing it, the kids trampoline killing it.

Synthetic grass can now look as good as the real deal. It can get hot in summer, but otherwise its nice having an always perfect looking lawn.

Re:Synthetic Grass (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#47644665)

It would be interesting to calculate the relative use of petroleum products in a synthetic lawn (made primarily out of plastics which are made primarily out of fossil fuels) with a 'natural' lawn (grown primarily with added fertilizer which is primarily made out of fossil fuels). The astroturf would be a one time event while the natural lawn requires input on a regular basis.

Re:Synthetic Grass (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 3 months ago | (#47646147)

Be even more interesting to find out how many people don't bother fertilizing their lawns.

Me for instance.

I can think of one of my neighbors who fertilize their flower beds (not their whole lawns), but the rest of us might toss in some weedkiller every few years (or not), and otherwise let it grow...

Re:Synthetic Grass (1)

operagost (62405) | about 3 months ago | (#47647791)

One time event? I don't think artificial turf is exempt from the laws of physics. It's going to need repair, cleaning, and eventual replacement.

Re:Synthetic Grass (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644713)

I don't get artificial turf as a "green" alternative. If you just stop applying chemicals, and keep applying water you still have a lawn. It's just not a monoculture lawn. One place I lived in my college years did this out of sheer laziness, not a desire to be "green". This was in Virginia. Result? A lawn with some residual turf grass, but visually dominated by flowering clover, dandelion, some purple flowers I never learned the name of the whole time I grew up there, and a smattering of less common wildflowers. That was what survived the occasional mowing to about six inches. It was absolutely beautiful and when my Dad come down one weekend I told him that. He said what you'd expect from any post-war suburban parent: "Weeds".

Sheesh. I never did get that. Dandelion is actually useful. It's edible for cryin' out loud. Clover fixed nitrogen. Turf grass? I'm hard pressed to think of a use.

Anyway, I digress. I don't get the whole idea of covering the grass with a petroleum product. Just stop applying chemicals, keep watering if there's not a drought, and mow to six inches. Let nature take it's course, and explain be the change you want to see--owner of diverse, healthy lawns.

Re:Synthetic Grass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645019)

> If you just stop applying chemicals, and keep applying water you still have a lawn

That's the other half of the issue. In many areas you have two seasons: Winter and drought. I have 2 months of the year I could water my lawn if I wanted to, and during that time it's raining constantly anyways. The rest of the summer you can't water so it just turns into a rough brown mess that's unpleasant to walk on. All those weeds are the same (I'm lazy and don't want to bother removing them OR applying fertilizer/weed killer). The weeds are worse, really, because they are a pain in the ass to mow and if you don't, they grow tall enough to start poking you with unpleasant thorns on the way into the backyard (yeah, I got really lazy one month).

Astroturf sounds like a pretty good idea. I bet my neighbours agree. :D

Re:Synthetic Grass (3, Informative)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47645287)

The trick is to *plant* weeds, preferably wild local plants that won't be invasive and are pleasant and well-adapted to the climate. Repeatedly massacre anything that put out thorns or such, and in a year or two you'll have such a nice dense mat of well-established and non-noxious wild growth that the unpleasant stuff will be hard pressed to sneak in. Essentially you're cultivating a lawn that can out-compete noxious weeds with little or no help from you.

Of course the drought thing can still do a number - between the beaver and the buffalo we massacred the most important animals on the continent for retaining surface ground water (the one built temporary ponds and channels that stored and distributed water and rich sediment, while the other churned standing grasses into the soil so they could break down and maintain a healthy, water-retaining loam rather than remaining on the surface and slowly oxidizing away.)

Re:Synthetic Grass (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47645309)

Should also mention - greywater use is *extremely* effective in desert areas, especially if you're cultivating native plants that can survive the drought to begin with. Even just catching the gallon or so of water you run to let your shower warm up and tossing it on the lawn every day can make the difference between plants struggling to survive and flourishing. And if you have a bathtub, then using a submersible pump to transfer the dirty water to your garden/lawn instead of sending it down the drain will make your yard the envy of the neighborhood.

Re:Synthetic Grass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645159)

You need to be in a climate zone that can actually support it, and you might need to do a little work to start it (possibly get some seeds) especially if you're surrounded by non-native grass lawns. The whole thing with not trimming it down to the ground is also sometimes a sticking point.

There's a little green strip along the road right where I live that's just ridiculously lush. The city doesn't mow or otherwise maintain it, so it's full of all sorts of plants, wild flowers of all sorts, and always full of a variety birds and bugs. It's kind of a nice little bit of wilderness along my daily walking route, and it really is a small strip. I really wouldn't mind seeing more of that, I don't know why the current 'front lawn culture' is a thing.

Re:Synthetic Grass (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 3 months ago | (#47645355)

> I don't know why the current 'front lawn culture' is a thing.
My guess - uselessness as an expression of wealth. Look at pretty much *any* of the trappings of wealth, virtually all of them are not just useless, but *intentionally* useless. Once upon a time it was silver swords and petticoats that took hours to don. And lawns - through their very existence you are stating "I have sufficient wealth to not only maintain a swath of fertile land growing a non-aggressive plant only good for walking on, but also systematically exterminate the endless onslaught of much-more-viable plants trying to get established". At one time it was only the nobility with their sweeping estates who could afford such a luxury, but now you too can have your very own tiny fragment of an estate and validate your self-worth as a modern American micro-noble.

Re:Synthetic Grass (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47647163)

I just like the way it feels on me toes.
However, I'm not obsessed with perfect lawn.
I also try to put my clippings into my yard. either around plant to minimize weeds, or a cycle it into the planter areas.
I would rather have weeds then use a poison.

Re:Synthetic Grass (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#47645489)

Sheesh. I never did get that. Dandelion is actually useful. It's edible for cryin' out loud. Clover fixed nitrogen. Turf grass? I'm hard pressed to think of a use.

It makes a lot more sense if you think of ornamental landscaping (and much of fashion in general) in terms of competitive display rather than pursuit of some specific aesthetic ideal. It is precisely because something is pointless and relatively resource intensive that it is a good competitive display. If it were purely utilitarian, or if it were trivial, everyone would have one. Lawns are also good for this because deficiencies in maintenance become publicly visible, in the form of various 'weeds' and irregularities of color or height, fairly quickly.

Re:Synthetic Grass (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 3 months ago | (#47645849)

Aussie turf grass (mainly cooch) good at stopping sandy soil from eroding and is kind to bare feet (but may contain funnel web spiders). The worst weed to have in an aussie lawn is the bindi, it has a large seed that no matter which way it lands has a thorn pointing upwards. Still, most (not all) people here in Oz fall into the "lazy" camp, we just mow whatever grows and maybe throw a box of seed mix around after a severe drought has turned it to dust. During a drought there are severe restrictions on water use for everyone with harsh penalties for breaking them, watering lawns (if permitted) is 2hr window on two or three days a week, sprinklers are generally banned. We aussies really do take water rationing very seriously during a drought, people or companies who flaunt the heavily advertised water rationing rules are about as popular with the general public as arsonists and pedophiles. All but the most dedicated gardeners see their laws disappear in the first or second February.

Having said that, wild grass is incredibly resilient, my house is near the beach, during the last major drought the yard was bare sand for several years, the lemon tree died in the second of five of our driest summers on record, the handful of native bushes and trees I have took it in their stride, two weeks of good rain in mid autumn then BOOM a carpet of green shoots across the entire yard, not an ounce of fertilizer, not a single seed sown. The easiest way to thicken it up after a drought is as you say cut high and often but also leave the catcher off the mower, this holds in the moisture, allows more species to reseed themselves, and gives pollinators a better chance of surviving the mower.

Flowers are not the only interesting feature of a wild lawn, we have a local grass that puts up a fast growing stem like a dandelion and at roughly the same time as dandelions are turning to seed. A narrow seed pod forms on top of the steam and when ripe explodes shooting hundreds of pinhead sized seeds waist high.

Disclaimer: I am an average (Aussie) post-war suburban grandparent :)
When there's enough rain to have a lawn I pay someone $50 to mow it and trim the edges every 3-5 weeks depending on the season, he does a great job. I am however a little odd (ok very odd) in that I don't mow it in early spring because it is covered in weeds (wild daisies) or late summer ( dandelions and grandpa's exploding grass :). Happily the road people seem to have also noticed the daisies since the drought broke and now appear to time their spring mowing so as to be just the right height when the 6-8 inch tall daisies flower (roughly a 2 week window in early spring). Makes the freeway commute feel like a spring meadow and doesn't cost them a cent.

Re:Synthetic Grass (1)

operagost (62405) | about 3 months ago | (#47647847)

some purple flowers I never learned the name of the whole time I grew up there

Probably chicory (which is more of a lavender color) or creeping charlie. I guess you could steep the roots and see if it tastes like camp coffee. :-P

Re:Synthetic Grass (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about 3 months ago | (#47644739)

I've never understood why synthetic turf owners down throw a splash of water over their yards in summer - the evaporating water will keep the heat down.

Yes, it does waste a little water, but far less than regular lawn and you can do it just on the days you want a cooling effect.

Re:Synthetic Grass (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645073)

Yes, because unless you live in a desert (where your house probably already has a swamp cooler anyway), the first thing you want when it's hot is to add humidity to the mix.

I don't even care whether or not you want to waste water. I'm just sick of the goddamn humidity.

Re:Synthetic Grass (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | about 3 months ago | (#47645049)

I don't think artificial turf is the answer. Its planting a drought resistant fiolage, some xeriscaping, etc. There are plenty of things you can plant in the yard. And why not let the weeds take over? Whats wrong with having a yard full of globesedge and matchweed. Nothing in my view.

Re:Synthetic Grass (1)

SumterLiving (994634) | about 3 months ago | (#47646643)

Believe it or not, in some towns in the USA, the local leaders consider xeriscaping just slightly less communistic than not allowing pub patrons to carry loaded guns. Until the days when water becomes too expensive to use in anything other than a drinking cup, my local leaders will insist all residents have lush, weed-free, green lawns. And they enforce that green grass / no weeds ordinance with tickets. Just try changing their minds to allow xeriscaping? Been down that road and got weed tickets 3 straight weeks in a row. I'll move as soon as I can break even on this money pit I called an investment.

Re:An economic and environmental disaster (5, Insightful)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 3 months ago | (#47644493)

The fertilizers used on lawns is blamed for the red tide outbreaks by feeding the organisms, it is believed.

Not to mention that most people (pro landscapers included) dump a lot more phosphorus than is necessary. A mature lawn needs very little phosphorus fertilizer, and in most areas none at all because the soil has enough. Using a phosphorus free fertilizer, which still contains the nutrients the plant needs such as nitrogen and potassium, is sufficient in most areas. And yet, general purpose fertilizer is often used (flowers and fruit needs phosphorus), and even fertilizer marketed for lawns usually unnecessarily contains fertilizer. And that's all about marketing and distribution. The fertilizer companies want to produce stuff they can market everywhere. Additionally, what are most people who don't know anybody going to buy, the fertilizer that says "27-3-10" or the one that says "27-0-10." The former of course, because 3 is better than 0! And lots of "lawn food" products contain plenty just for good measure without even having the N-P-K ratio on the label.

Education in this area would go a loooong way. Educate the public, the professional landscapers, and the fertilizer suppliers. There are even some municipalities where it's illegal to dump phosphorus containing fertilizer on lawns. Yes, it's easy to get away with breaking that ordinance (especially with the pretty labels at Home Depot), but what having the ordnance does in particular is educate the landscapers who will then buy phosphorus free fertilizer, which will in turn educate (to some degree) the public, and make phosphorus free fertilizer more available and the de facto standard.

Re:An economic and environmental disaster (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 3 months ago | (#47644597)

St. Augustine has not been very popular in Florida for a couple of decades. It used to be about the only grass planted here. Bitter Blue and other, better grasses are now popular. Watering restrictions alone would have limited the use of St. Augustine but the big factor seemed to be runners and also insect vulnerabilities. St. Augustine also grows way too quickly if rain and summer sun are just right. Mowing a lawn every three days is tiresome and expensive. My county has limited residential fertilizer use already but we suffer from agricultural run off from the sugar cane industry. Due to excessive development and population we can no longer be effective in storing rain water. If we store a bit too much the farms flood and some homes as well. If we store just a tiny bit too little we go into water restrictions. Every year we dump huge amounts of rain water into the sea. Yet no government agency will buck the developers and shut down building permits which is exactly what we need to do.

Re:An economic and environmental disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644835)

Frivolous people need some way to:

1) Show off their wealth
2) make their yards look nice
3) make what's in their yards impractical to steal

Having nice lawns with non-indigenous plants accomplishes all of these goals. Good luck on that fertilizer ban.

Re:An economic and environmental disaster (1)

silfen (3720385) | about 3 months ago | (#47645225)

It's inconvenient. It's not a "disaster". And although humans clearly are causing many algal blooms, they are also a natural phenomenon; you can't eliminate them.

Re:An economic and environmental disaster (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#47647197)

The fact that you seem to think you can't have a natural phenomenon be a disaster is mind boggling.

Also, Red Tide is 10 times stronger then they where 50 years ago specifically due to human activities.

Re:An economic and environmental disaster (1)

silfen (3720385) | about 3 months ago | (#47647667)

The fact that you seem to think you can't have a natural phenomenon be a disaster is mind boggling.

Where the hell did you get that idea? Something is a "disaster" if it unexpectedly and unpredictably destroys a lot of infrastructure and/or kills a lot of people; earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, tornadoes, and hurricanes can all do that. An algal bloom does none of those things.

This knee-jerk reflex to call inconveniences "disasters" is as stupid as the knee-jerk reflex to call crimes "terrorism". Of course the motivation is the same: if it's a "disaster" or "terrorism", money starts flowing.

Also, Red Tide is 10 times stronger then they where 50 years ago specifically due to human activities.

Oh, I'm sure you can dig up some fear mongering web site purporting to show that. In reality, people don't know:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]

While red tides in the Gulf of Mexico have been occurring since the time of early explorers such as Cabeza de Vaca,[16] it is unclear what initiates these blooms and how large a role anthropogenic and natural factors play in their development. It is also debated whether the apparent increase in frequency and severity of algal blooms in various parts of the world is in fact a real increase or is due to increased observation effort and advances in species identification methods.[17][18]

Re:An economic and environmental disaster (1)

Rotag_FU (2039670) | about 3 months ago | (#47648403)

In Florida, they often use grass species which are pretty much impossible to keep going without these massive applications, such as St. Augustine. When you stop throwing the chemicals on the yard, the St. Augustine will mostly go away.

This might vary depending upon the area of Florida that you lived in. I lived in the Tampa Bay area when growing up and never had to fertilize our St. Augustine, nor did I have to water it. It rained almost daily during the summers at ~3 PM and the grass seemed to grow too quickly to mow. Even when there was some drought and Xeriscaping was touted as the solution, this was supposed to be to address high water consumption ornamentals rather than St. Augustine grass. There were many times mowing the grass as a kid that I wished the grass would have died or at least slowed down. :)

However, I haven't lived in Florida for 16 years so it is possible that much has changed in the intervening years.

Whose jets are spraying the oceans and lakes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644369)

Its time for the new world order to fess up and explain to the world what kind of science that is driving the anonymous chemicals being sprayed from those mystery aircraft everyone labled as a nutjob conspiracy theorist is writing about on-line.

Dude... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644857)

The "new world order" is nothing more than a handful of extremely rich people conspiring to ensure that their families get even richer while everyone else's gets even poorer. No mystery aircraft pumping strange chemicals into the ocean needed.

Yeah, the world is run by sociopaths. But they aren't aliens. Chill.

Obvious (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644375)

This is CLEARLY the work of global warming, unless it isn't in which case it still is anyways.

Harvest the algae for food / protein source (0)

Cito (1725214) | about 3 months ago | (#47644427)

We can feed it to homeless, we can call it "soylent green", it's made nutritious for people!

Re:Harvest the algae for food / protein source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644581)

And it's highly toxic, so you solve two problems at once!

Lake Champlain is impacted by algae as well (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644435)

St. Albans Bay and Missisquoi Bay on Lake Champlain are on high alert for blue green algae blooms and associated cyanobacteria.

Communities up and down Lake Champlain in New York and Vermont have been dealing with this for years.

Re:Lake Champlain is impacted by algae as well (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | about 3 months ago | (#47644541)

We used to tackle blue green algae with copper sulfate in the 400 acre pond where i grew up. We just put about 2 lbs in a burlap sack, tied a rope around it and trolled it around the algae areas once or twice a week for three to four weeks in a row durring the heat of summer. It took about 2-3 hours to hit the blooms

Do they not do this any more? Or is there something different about in your area that makes it impractical or inneffective or something?

Re:Lake Champlain is impacted by algae as well (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#47644691)

With the price of recycled copper these days, people don't do this often because the low lifes will steal the pond.

Re:Lake Champlain is impacted by algae as well (1)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 3 months ago | (#47644749)

A pond is a little bit different than the ocean. Copper is fairly toxic to marine invertebrates. With it already being a given that the invertebrates in the area of the bloom are going to die; the question becomes how many will die from a large amount of copper drifting out of that area. And will it even be all that effective with the kinds of currents that are in the ocean. You can saturate a pond, even 400 acres. It will take some time for the copper concentration to wash out. In the ocean it could wash out in a matter of minutes, or hours. And that's not even considering the shear volume. I'm guessing that the pond you mentioned has no where near the depth that many of these areas in the ocean that are being affected.

Re:Lake Champlain is impacted by algae as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645969)

Copper sulphate would indeed kill off these algae pretty effectively. And practically everything else in the same water that wasn't buried in the sediment and therefore buffered a bit from it. You're basically trolling poison around the pond and then letting the fauna/flora get reestablished after it finishes reacting.

Re:Lake Champlain is impacted by algae as well (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 3 months ago | (#47650179)

in the 400 acre pond where i grew up

You grew up in a pond, are you a frog?

In the UK a pond is 10ft, 400 acres is a big lake.

Look's like CmdrTaco's Mom (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644463)

Queefed again.

Please Rob, stop her senseless Queefing. Make Shaq wash his hands next time before he double fists her again, then the infections might stop.

Re:Look's like CmdrTaco's Mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645157)

CmdrTaco stopped reading Slashdot long ago. Remember, he was forced out by the new owners, years back. Seeing what Dice has done to the place (Beta, et al) is more painful than anything you could ever post.

The unmentionable plays a role (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644497)

.

The unmentionable. [wikipedia.org]

Companies like Synagro [synagro.com] and WeCare Organics [wecareorganics.com] take municipal waste and deposit it on farm fields where your food is grown. [usgs.gov]

There is a lot of money in this - the kitty is so rich, [fbi.gov] sometimes back room deals are made [mlive.com] to keep the gravy train rolling and sludge hauling contracts active.

Powerful lobbies, such as the WEF [wef.org] and AWWA [awwa.org] "educate" the political establishment to keep nutrient standards low. [biosolidsblog.com]

Look up what happened in the Chesapake Bay.... [aqualaw.com]

Algae blooms are the inevitable result.

On the other side, people have been trying for years to get labeling standards improved so consumers can make informed choices as to if they want to eat food grown in sludge, but year over year the bill dies in committee. [washingtonwatch.com] The opposing side doesn't have the money to counter the powerful WEF lobby, so congressional masters kill the bill in committee every year its introduced.

One can only hope is that now that algae blooms are happening with greater frequency and more people are being impacted, that new nutrient standards will become the norm and this sludge spreading nonsense will end. [wfae.org]

Just be glad (-1, Offtopic)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 3 months ago | (#47644509)

it ain't some giant Jap broccoli.

Filter in / Filter Out (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644537)

Why don't these farms have filtration systems that filter the waste water *before* it goes out to sea?

Re:Filter in / Filter Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47644621)

Why don't these farms have filtration systems that filter the waste water *before* it goes out to sea?

Scale and chemistry.

Too much water over too much area, and you can't filter out things dissolved in the water.

Re:Filter in / Filter Out (3, Interesting)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 3 months ago | (#47644705)

You can not economically filter out things dissolved in water... reverse osmosis comes to mind and I suspect there are other methods involving distillation.

It goes to scale.

The one that measures influence.

Re:Filter in / Filter Out (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 3 months ago | (#47644769)

Water from a farm escapes along every edge and goes into the ground water it then goes into creeks. To filter all the groundwater is just not possible.

buzzhead (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 3 months ago | (#47644663)

They just don't want you to drink the water because the toxin gives you a good buzz.

Been there during "Red Tide" (1)

zoid.com (311775) | about 3 months ago | (#47644753)

We were there for the last red tide back in 2006 and one thing we noticed is it makes you cough similar to pepper spray (yes I have experience pepper spray).

Silver lining (1)

scubamage (727538) | about 3 months ago | (#47644767)

So what you're saying is this may be a good time to invest in companies that make bottled water or purification systems.

Iron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645007)

The connection between fertilizer run off and red tide has been challenging to pinpoint, probably other conditions need also need to be met. There does seem to be a relation iron blowing off the Sahara and blooms shows some correlation. It could be related to desertification resulting from population pressures in North Africa.

thias FP 7or GNAA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645077)

Let's keep to This exploitation, are She had taken WORLD'S GAY NIGGER andK suggesting

Benford wrote an algae-based apocalypse. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645085)

"Timescape." Pretty good book. Not up-to-date, but still a nice read.

If only the OP would join the 21st century (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47645435)

and use the METRIC system instead of the stupid imperial one...

About the bloom? (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 3 months ago | (#47649821)

Are the bloom moving closer to Orlando?

Bloom radar image maps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652713)

Looking for a live bloom radar image of the gulf. Local TV news show nice image maps when reporting but I can't find the source. The FWC has a weekly sample file you can upload to google earth... too old. I searched NOAA's site... no luck.

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