Ignore Climate Change at Your Peril | The Jackal

6 Jul 2011

Ignore Climate Change at Your Peril

Republican Senator and leading climate denier Jim Inhofe had to cancel his keynote address yesterday at the Heartland climate denial conference because he felt “under the weather.” 

The ironic thing is his sickness was due to a toxic algal bloom in the Oklahoma Grand Lake where he has a home. Inhofe had swam in the lake last Monday morning, which resulted in a severe upper respiratory illness.
“That night, I was just deathly sick,'' he said, recalling that he had encouraged his 13-year-old granddaughter to join him in the water but she declined."She didn't want to get in that green stuff," she said. 
Inhofe’s sickness is due to the toxic algal bloom and comes as his state deals with a record-setting heat wave and drought not seen since the 1930’s, which has created perfect conditions for blue-green algal blooms that can cause respiratory problems, diarrhea, skin irritation and in some cases death.
Inhofe famously called climate change a “hoax” and has fought bitterly against any action on reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. He has also been opposed to regulation of phosphorus and nitrogen run-off under the EPA’s Clean Water Act. Inhofe said he’s worried about the economic impact of increased regulation of run-off.

In Texas, cattle have been dying from drinking blue-green algae that scientists believe blossomed due to severe drought conditions. Scientists also believe that an increase of nutrients ie effluent and fertilizer run-off and an increase in temperatures is the main cause for an increased amount of phytoplankton.

Phosporus and nitrogen lead to the formation of blue-green algal blooms, which choke off oxygen to other forms of marine life, leading to widespread fish (and sometimes mammal) kills. Algal blooms are not the only problem facing our oceans, with increases in temperature also having a detrimental effect on coral reefs throughout the world.

Climate change has huge implications to many industries and peoples survival. Rising sea levels, temperature fluctuations, increased storm activity, droughts, floods are all significant problems that are a direct result of man made climate change because of our unrelenting use of fossil fuels.

Algae blooms, are also placed as one of the most pressing matters by UNESCO, who set up the IOC HAB Programme to foster the effective management of, and scientific research on, harmful algal blooms in order to understand their causes, predict their occurrences, and mitigate their effects.

Toxic algal blooms can contaminate seafood or kill fish, with the high-biomass producers also causing anoxia and indiscriminate kills of marine life after reaching dense concentrations. Algal blooms are becoming more prevalent throughout the world as the effects of climate change gain momentum.

It would be beneficial for the National Party and New Zealand farmers to take note and move to reduce farm runoff with better management practices. Unfortunately National has just ensured more run-off by providing as much as $400 million for further irrigation and increased farming intensification.

New Zealand should be moving away from intensive ecologically disastrous industries and towards Eco friendly endeavours that do not negatively impact on the environment. However with many councils now denying that runoff contributes to algal blooms, and John Key being a climate change denier, it is likely that the problem will become significantly worse in this country.

In a recent BBC interview, John Key said he would be happy to swim in any New Zealand waterway. His statement shows just how far removed John Key is from reality. It also spurred the creation of the Facebook group John Key happy to swim in these NZ rivers, which has photos of the places where John Key is apparently happy to swim.

Inhofe's sickness from swimming in the polluted lake spurred environmental officials in Oklahoma to send out a warning yesterday about major blue-green algae blooms:
“Because toxins harmful to humans and animals can be produced in some algae blooms, it is strongly recommended you do not swim in places where there are visible blooms," they said.