The southwest coast of Florida has been looking like a war zone over the last several months.
A red tide is destroying wildlife across Florida's southwest coast www.youtube.com
Hundreds of manatees, turtles and other sea animals have washed up dead on the shore, from Tampa Bay all the way down to Key West. The cause of death is red tide — a massive growth of red algae that produces deadly toxins. If sea animals inhale or ingest the toxins in large enough quantities, they die.
Red tides are a natural phenomenon, but this catastrophe is manmade.
Red tide usually occurs in Florida between October and February, but this red tide has been going on for almost a year.
The culprit is agricultural runoff. Animal feces from factory farms runs into rivers, lakes and eventually the ocean in high quantities. It's great food for the toxic red algae, because it contains high levels of nitrogen and phosphorous.
The Environmental Protection Agency tried to regulate animal agriculture and sewage pollution in Florida, but the state fought back.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott backing his homeboy Donald Trump. (Giphy)
Back in 2010, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi all wrote a letter to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson saying that limiting pollution would be an "onerous regulation" by an "overbearing federal government."
Then in 2014, Scott and Bondi actually filed a lawsuit against the EPA to stop the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay. According to a Miami Herald columnist, the pair of politicians was acting on the interests of the agriculture industry. The American Farm Bureau Federation and the Fertilizer Institute were two of lobby groups opposing the bay cleanup.
Given the current party in the White House, we can't rely on the federal government to enforce EPA regulations like the Clean Water Act.
However, as individuals, we can make choices that are more eco-conscious. Decreasing the demand for meat is one way to cut down on the amount of pollution that causes toxic algae blooms and ocean dead zones.
With politicians failing to protect the oceans, we must take the power into our own hands.