The “Red Tide” Isn’t Leaving Florida Coasts Any Time Soon

SARASOTA, UNITED STATES - August 26: A sign warning of a no sw
A Sign Warning Civilians Not to Swim Credit: The Washington Post

Florida’s Southwest coast has been dealing with a “red tide” caused by a deadly algae bloom of the dinoflagellate Karenia brevisK. brevis can produce brevetoxins, which are known for causing high mortalities in marine fish and humans via neurotoxic shellfish poisoning. The current algal bloom has been going on since October 2017.

The USF-FWC Collaboration for the Prediction of Red Tides has predicted the movement of surface waters to the Northeast over the coming days. However, this water movement will have a negligible effect on the K. brevis bloom.

Algae forcast
Projected Population Concentration of K. brevis Credit: Ocean Circulation Group at the University of South Florida College of Marine Sciences

While monitoring the abundance of K. brevis the cyanobacterium, Trichodesmium was identified about 10 miles west of the Southwest coast. Scientists fear that the increased concentration of Trichodesmium could merge with the red tide and serve as a food source, increasing the duration of the algal bloom.

The red tide has had a noticeable influence on Florida’s marine vertebrate populations. The red tide has resulted in the death of at least 29 manatees, and it has stranded 318 sea turtles. The tide has also caused numerous fish kills, leaving many Florida beaches covered in rotting fish.

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Dead fish on Anna Maria Island in Manatee County, Florida Credit: Jessica Meszaros/ WUSF Public Media

West coast businesses have also been impacted by the red tide. Some estimates have shown that nearly $90 million has been lost and 300 workers have been laid off because of the algal bloom. The drop in tourism has been attributed to the loss in business.

Scientists are still unsure if the recent algae bloom was caused by climate change. Many have noted that the water in the Gulf of Mexico increasing in temperature and carbon dioxide content has made the bloom worse.

Monitoring for the presence and concentrations of K. brevis is done by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.


Trump Administration is Replacing Obama-era Clean Air Rules, Despite the Health Concerns Cited in the Latest EPA Report

A power plant located in Cheshire, Ohio. Credit Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

The Trump administration made a move on Tuesday to formally replace the Clean Power Plan with a proposal called the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule.

Following the regulation change, President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency released its own analysis of the new rules. The analysis revealed that the regulation change could lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 and create up to 15,000 new cases of upper respiratory problems.

Many news organizations were quick to point the EPA analysis out:

The Affordable Clean Energy rule allows individual states to create their own plans for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, contrasting from the federal government regulation of state’s emissions that existed under the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan, a set of pollution regulations announced by former President Obama in August 2015, aimed to reduce carbon pollution throughout the United States by moving the power sector away from non-renewable energy sources. The plan was projected to lower carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants by 32 percent by the year 2030.

Currently, energy production is the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report released by the EPA in 2016. The report listed coal combustion to be the most carbon-intensive source of electricity production in the U.S., comprising about 67 percent of total carbon dioxide energy emissions.

Following the announcement of the Affordable Clean Energy rules, President Trump held a ‘MAGA’ rally in Charleston, West Virginia.

At the rally, President Trump said, “We are putting our great coal miners back to work.”

The Charleston Gazette-Mail released an article on Monday criticizing President Trump’s latest policy decisions. In it, they noted that many experts believe that the decline in coal industry jobs is going to happen regardless of Trump’s regulatory changes.

The latest employment numbers in the coal mining industry have shown a slight increase of approximately 4,200 jobs from July 2016 to July 2018. It is still unclear if the new rules will stimulate employment growth further.

The introduction of the Affordable Clean Energy rule follows many other attempts made by the Trump administration to reduce regulations on pollution. Previously in the year, the EPA was placed under the public eye for its rollback on an Obama-era rule designed to cut pollution from vehicle tailpipes.