Not Global Climate Change, But Other Ways What We Do Impacts the Environment

When people argue against the scientific fact that human behavior causes or exacerbates global climate change, they often act as if they fully understood the entire chain from man’s production of CO2 and methane in the air over Los Angeles to extremely powerful hurricanes in Florida and Louisiana.

They don’t.

Here’s a less traumatic example of how we often just don’t get it.

In my home town of Monterey, CA, there is a serious scare about the safety of some seafood being harvested. Fishing and tourism (which depends to some degree on fish and fishing) depend heavily on healthy seafood. The problem: a somewhat unusual outbreak of a biotoxin called domoic acid.This poison is produced by a particular species of algae. But they don’t always¬† produce it. It appears they do so when the water in which they grow has an excess amount of nitrogen.

OK, here’s where the humans come in.

As the area experiences “a large coastal population boom, more septic tanks and more lawns [are] being fertilized.” This increases the flow of nitrogen into the Monterey Bay, “altering the marine environment in a way that can lead to higher domoic acid concentrations.”

This stuff isn’t dangerous to humans…except in large concentrations. And when it does affect us, it does so in particularly nasty ways. “Once ingested, the toxin immediately attacks the brain by rapidly shrinking the hippocampus, causing loss of motor coordination, amnesia, violent seizures, vomiting, permanent neurological damage and even heart failure within two days.” That’s in the somewhat large sea lions that have been hit by the domoic acid onslaught at the rate of 20-plus per day over recent months.

But intermediate species including shellfish, sardines and anchovies along with brown pelicans, otters, dolphin and whales, are also affected by domoic acid. All because too many people want to live in this beautiful place and fertilize their lawns and gardens.

So don’t try to convince me that you can absolutely rule out the possibility of human behavior causing or worsening global climate change. You just can’t do that.

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