When ever there is a naturally occurring problem, like red tide, the first impulse by politicians is to create a task force to look at the naturally occurring problem.
Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis announced in a press release on August 2nd, 2019:
[T]he appointments of 11 expert researchers and leading scientists to the recently re-organized Red Tide Task Force. The Governor was joined by Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Noah Valenstein and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Executive Director Eric Sutton. For over 15 years, this Task Force had been inactive and without funding until it’s re-organization by FWC today at the direction of Governor DeSantis. Governor DeSantis originally called for the re-organization of the task force on his second day in office via Executive Order 19-12.
“The Red Tide Task Force will focus on the causes of Red Tide and will be supported by FWC’s Center for Red Tide Research, which received $4.8 million in the budget,” said Governor DeSantis. “My administration will continue to press forward to find solutions and empower our brightest minds to help protect our environment. The issues of Red Tide are complex, but with the appointments of these leading scientists and researchers, we hope to make a difference.” [Emphasis added]
How Government Gets Red Tide (Karenia brevis) Wrong
If you go to the Center for Disease Control fact sheet on red tide (Karenia brevis or K-brevis) you will find this information:
Algae are vitally important to marine ecosystems, and most species of algae are not harmful. However, under certain environmental conditions, microscopic marine algae called Karenia brevis (K. brevis) grow
quickly, creating blooms that can make the ocean appear red or brown. People often call these blooms “red tide.”
K. brevis produces powerful toxins called brevetoxins, which have killed millions of fish and other marine organisms. Red tides have damaged the fishing industry, shoreline quality, and local economies in states such as Texas and Florida. Because K. brevis blooms move based on winds and tides, pinpointing a red tide at any given moment is difficult.
Red tides occur throughout the world, affecting marine ecosystems in Scandinavia, Japan, the Caribbean,and the South Pacific. Scientists first documented a red tide along Florida’s Gulf Coast in fall 1947, when residents of Venice, Florida, reported thousands of dead fish and a “stinging gas” in the air, according to Mote Marine Laboratory. However, Florida residents have reported similar events since the mid-1800s. [Emphasis added]
The first report of red tide was by Angelo Heilprin, an American geologist, paleontologist and naturalist in 1886. Heilprin visited the Manatee River and Little Sarasota Bay and found, “thousands upon thousands of carcasses [of dead fish] heaped up in continuous banks” killed by “red tide.” Heilprin wrote about red tide in his May, 1887 book Explorations on the West Coast of Florida.
For 133 years the world, and Florida in particular, has known about red tide and a fix is not in the offing.
“Red Tide Task Force” is Doomed
Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website only shows predictions and areas currently impacted by red tide. The Commission’s website states, “FWC reports on the current status of Karenia brevis blooms using tables, static maps, and interactive Google Earth maps. Archived status maps can be found in our Flickr gallery.”
So does anyone have a solution to red tide?
Red tides are naturally occurring, but there is ample evidence that shows nutrient pollution can fuel blooms, making them larger and longer lasting. Learn more about this here. Worse still, warming waters associated with climate change appear to be helping these blooms thrive in areas that haven’t been affected by algae blooms historically.
The nutrient pollution that fuels algal blooms comes from many different sources- runoff from agriculture and landscaping fertilizers, leaky septic tanks and aging sewage infrastructure, and stormwater and urban runoff.
Note how Dias and Parker try connecting red tide to “climate change” to create a boogeyman effect. Actually according to NASA the climate is cooling as we are experiencing a solar minimum (few or no sunspots), which makes the oceans cooler.
Sid Perkins of the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences of the United States of America reports:
Red tide blooms are natural events, not manmade, notes Robert Weisberg, a physical oceanographer at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, FL, who has been studying red tides in the Gulf of Mexico for decades. The blooms have been known to strike the Florida coasts since the 1500s when Spanish explorers mentioned warnings from Native Americans not to eat fish caught in discolored waters, he adds. [Emphasis added]
So what needs to happen to reduce, but not eliminate the “naturally occurring” red tide blooms is to stop fertilizing, repair leaky septic tanks, fix our sewage systems and stop urban runoff?
But this won’t stop red tide blooms. Why? Because they are naturally occurring.
Florida scientists like Weisberg have been studying red tide for decades to no avail. Spending $4.8 million dollars won’t stop the “naturally occurring” red tide blooms today, tomorrow or in the foreseeable future. Stopping us from fertalizing will only harm Florida’s farming and tourist industries. No one comes to Disney World to see dead plants that have haven’t been properly fertilized, right?
Floridians must understand that like “naturally occurring” hurricanes, red tide blooms are with us forever. We just need to prepare for them both.
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