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Time to act is now

August 29, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

To the editor:

Dr. Michael Crosby, president and chief executive officer of the Mote Marine Laboratories - a biblical mote in your eye? - describes red tide as a long standing natural phenomenon and not necessarily related to agricultural fertilizer. This is only a part of the story.

Long before Europeans set eyes on Florida's southwest coast, there were thousands of bird rookeries. Bird guano fertilized red tide. Condominiums and luxury resorts have replaced the rookeries, but the crap, corruption and toxic chemicals that runs off fields, pastures, golf courses and residential developments is now the stimulus for red tide. Like many others, Dr. Crosby coyly uses the word "nutrients" instead of fertilizer. Beware, reader - always ask who finances scientific activities. Grant money from the government or industry can influence "scientific" results.

It is time for the captains, mayors, commissioners, scientists and the professional environmentalists to stop whining and start a boycott of Florida agricultural products. Even if the boycott didn't work, the publicity might shame the politicians and Florida's Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam into enacting a state-wide ban on fertilizers until agriculture, the golf courses and developers build artificial wetlands to catch the runoff. Stop the excuses that it is "a problem," "difficult" and "it will take a long time." Put enough pressure on the politicians. If they stop holding out their hands for money from the sugar daddies, they could enact the legislation tomorrow. Don't let them wait for more decades. A bulldozer can scrape out a shallow holding pond, planted with native vegetation in a few days.

Septic tanks that leak into our waterways are another stimulus for green algae and red tide. If cities, like Captiva, refuse to develop systems for the disposal of sewage then force their citizens to install composting or incinerator toilets instead of passing their excrement into our waterways.

Get 'er done now, not in the next century.

John Raffensperger




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