Indian River Lagoon destruction needs quick action

by Project Censored

Down the east coast of Florida lies one of nature’s most amazing lagoons. The Indian River Lagoon stretches though six different counties and covers 353 square miles. The lagoon is home to over 4300 different animal and plant species. One third of the nation’s manatee population, hundreds of bottle nose dolphins and many different sea turtles use this lagoon as their ecosystem. The lagoon contains huge oyster reefs that provide a habitat for much of the fish population in Florida. But the lagoon is now being faced with major problems and is being threatened by human activity. One of the major problems is dumping into Lake Okeechobee is causing run off into the lagoon. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that around 3 million pounds of nitrogen is making its way to the lagoon. The toxic pollution is forming green algae in the water and is very dangerous to humans and animals. Some pollution such as heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides, bacteria, and oil are causing animals to have tumors. Scientists have discovered shocking results showing that over 70% of sea turtles in the lagoon have tumors such as fibropapillomas, and these tumors can be directly linked to the harmful pollution. This pollution is not only affecting the wildlife but also the economy. Many residents of the Treasure Coast rely on the water as a way of income for their family. The lagoon has an annual economic value of $3.7 billion due to real estate, commercial fishing and recreation. Greg Sapp, an economist, has said that an unhealthy lagoon is “bad business for Florida”. Even a local business owner that rents paddleboards out to customers has been majorly affected by this. People do not want to get in the water if there is any chance that they could be at risk from the pollution. There is not one single cure for this problem but as a community a plan can formulated to stop this and to prevent the pollution from continuing to happen. All citizens should start by talking to their state and local law makers to encourage new laws and regulations to keep the water safer and cleaner. The problem deserves more media attention if constructive change is to occur.


“Indian River Lagoon Destruction Needs Quick Action.” Central Florida Future. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2013

Student Researcher: Taylor Cain, Indian River State College

Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College



As humans we get to enjoy some of nature’s joys that earth contains such and mountains, rivers, beaches and lakes. As I read about the Indian River Lagoon being polluted I fear that if the pollution does not stop then the animal and plant life will vanish from the lagoon. The lagoon once had more animal species than any other lagoon in the world, and it is still home to 53 endangered or threatened animals. But still the problem with pollution has not been solved. Is it not morally wrong to sit back and not take action to address such a crises?

The major ethical problem that we have to consider here is pollution, and if we are going to sit back as a community and allow the lagoon to be destroyed. If we take a utilitarian approach to this problem then the answer is quite simple. Utilitarianism says that the morally right action is the one that produces the most favorable balance of good over evil. When run off from Lake Okeechobee is being allowed to rush into the lagoon polluting it and causing fish, plants and other animals to be at risk of disease or even death then it’s obvious that this approach would not support this. Also if we think of all of the negative consequences that accrue due to pollution then it is very clear that the ethically correct decision is to find ways to prevent pollution. Even the great 18th Century philosopher, Immanuel Kant, would condemn the act of polluting. According to Kant, morally justified action had to be such that everyone could reasonably perform the action in question. However, if everyone in the world sat back and allowed pollution to occur then we would destroy our planet, and no reasonable person would choose to do that. So these ethical theories point to the same conclusion, namely, that it’s wrong to pollute.

As humans we all live on earth together and it is our duty to keep the planet clean and healthy so that our kids will have the same opportunity as we have had. I believe that people are taking the lagoon for granted and not truly understanding the important role it plays on the Treasure Coast. There are a substantial number of jobs that are associated with the lagoon, and ever since pollution has become a problem jobs have continuously been lost.

Most people can also agree that it is unethical to torture animals. Polluting their environment is nothing more than torturing them. I believe that it is time that the government steps in and requires much more regulations to control what is going on in the Indian River Lagoon and elsewhere on earth. If the public was more aware of what was going on with the pollution then maybe more government action would be taken to stop the pollution. That’s why the media must do a better job in covering stories such as the one covered here.