The Chesapeake-A Bay of Mucky Green Slime

“Mucky green slime” These were the words which came out of my mouth as I stepped foot in the Chesapeake Bay for the annual Polar Bear plunge. How could this once crystal clear estuary be filled with so much green algae. Unfortunately, the answer lies in the methods of farming for some of the staple foods we eat every day.


Often, crops are pumped with heavy levels of nitrogen-containing fertilizers in an effort to increase crop yield. Unsurprisingly, with these marginal pros come a list of cons mounting to negative effects, many times more severe. Upon seeing the disaster first hand, so close to my home in Baltimore, I decided to see how such an issue could affect the world stage. Specifically, to further show the impact of such fertilizers, I took it upon myself to compare varying levels of fertilizer consumption with the quality of life in the respective country (seen to the right). Unsurprisingly, developing nations like India and China had the highest levels of nitrogen consumption. However, it wasn’t these countries that experience such high levels of standard of living but those which in fact consumed far lower levels. Countries which had the highest standard of living tended to be those which were highly efficient in terms of both production and consumption. For example, according to the Independent, Denmark has pledged for a zero food waste future. Such a reality

would enable the nation to consume far less nitrogen. Now, why is nitrogen so bad? Nitrogen, being a fertilizer, ignites rapid growth in organisms. Seems like a good

thing right? Nitrogen is vital for organisms however, when in large quantities, the element can cause algal blooms. These algal blooms, reduce the amount of sunlight

Click to enhance image

able to pass through, killing aquatic plants, fish, and in turn hurting the economy of the surrounding inhabitants. In essence, those countries which consumed large amounts of nitrogen seldom had high standards of living. What is the one glaring exception to this statement? The United States. Through some miracle, the US has managed to consume high levels of nitrogen for agriculture indicating high values of food wastage while maintaining a high standard of living. Nevertheless, until and unless we, as a world, come together in an effort to seize over consumption of nitrogen and in turn end the horrible side effects like mucky estuaries, the fate of our Earth remains in the balance. To address these concerns, I call for all of you to end the wastage of fertilizers like nitrogen from your end. How can you? By simply never wasting food. Agriculture is the largest source of nitrogen pollution and by ending food waste, farmers’ interests shift from over producing to efficiently producing.






Call of Action:

Sign this petition to reduce the nitrogen footprint YOU leave behind:


Works Cited

“Chesapeake Bay Wallpapers.” WallpaperCave,

Discover Magazine: The Latest in Science and Technology News, Blogs and Articles,

Rodionova, Zlata. “Denmark Reduces Food Waste by 25% in Five Years with the Help of One Woman – Selina Juul.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 28 Feb. 2017,


Ananth Josyula

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  1. April 27, 2018 by Eric Hudson

    Great local focus! If you were to continue this work, what body of water might you tackle next?

  2. April 28, 2018 by Nakul.Bajaj

    The Nitrogen Cycle flowchart seems like a really solid way to explain nitrogen’s use as a fertilizer and how it also contributes to pollution. Where did you get it from?

  3. April 29, 2018 by Esther Bedoyan

    I like how you bring attention to an issue that maybe not a lot of people think about on a day to day basis. I like how you set up your article in a very conversational tone, and especially how you started off with your own experiences of seeign how excess nitrogen can have negative effects on the environment.

  4. April 29, 2018 by Naoya Okamoto

    Great article! I’ve see. Those algal blooms but I’ve iced known where they come from!

  5. April 29, 2018 by Jimmy Chen

    Impressive how much nitrogen some countries use, although those countries do produce most of the food. The chart is very helpful in putting everything in context and shows the importance.

  6. April 29, 2018 by Alison Selman

    I’ve been in the Chesapeake before and I had no idea nitrogen caused it to be mucky. Very interesting and informative article.

  7. April 29, 2018 by Jason Chen

    The nitrogen cycle looked really awesome. Did you make it?

  8. April 29, 2018 by Justin.Chen

    The graphics on your article are extremely helpful for understanding your points. It is a great article that has clearly been the result of much hard work. The local focus of this article is also inspiring to help problems in my local area.

  9. April 29, 2018 by Melle.Koper

    Love the graphics, they helped me get a better understanding of the issue.

  10. April 30, 2018 by Huy Tran

    The nitrogen used graph caught my attention. Great read.

  11. April 30, 2018 by BBracker

    This is probably one of the best and, thanks to research such as this, most credible reasons to choose organic produce.

  12. April 30, 2018 by Cole.Biafore

    This is an interesting topic. I remember reading about it during the SAT exam, but I never got to focus too closely at it because I was trying to rush my way through. Although the text on the charts were a little small, I never realized how much Nitrogen was used by China, India, and America compared to the rest of the world. Maybe population can explain some of that issue, but I wouldn’t imagine that it is the sole reason for it.

  13. April 30, 2018 by Audrey.Acken

    Very interesting article. The visuals were well-planned and helped to demonstrate your main points. Great job!

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