Annals of global warming: Great Lakes need water

November 13, 2013

Does Lake Michigan's record low mark beginning of new era for Great Lakes? At least 150 years of rhythmic pulses in Lake Michigan's water levels appear to have shifted abruptly with loss of winter ice.   Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Photo and caption from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Does Lake Michigan’s record low mark beginning of new era for Great Lakes? At least 150 years of rhythmic pulses in Lake Michigan’s water levels appear to have shifted abruptly with loss of winter ice. Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Don’t get complacent, yet.  Has enough water fallen in the Great Lakes drainage area in the past six months to change this situation at all?  From the New York Times last June:

Drought and other factors have created historically low water marks for the Great Lakes, putting the $34 billion Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping industry in peril, a situation that could send ominous ripples throughout the economy.

Water levels in the Great Lakes have been below their long-term averages during the past 14 years, and this winter the water in Lakes Michigan and Huron, the hardest-hit lakes, dropped to record lows, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Keith Kompoltowicz, the chief of watershed hydrology with the corps’s Detroit district, said that in January “the monthly mean was the lowest ever recorded, going back to 1918.”

While spring rains have helped so far this year, levels in all five Great Lakes are still low by historical standards, so getting through the shallow points in harbors and channels is a tense affair.

It’s not just storms, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers, you know.

The Great Lakes as seen from space. The Great ...

The Great Lakes from space. The Great Lakes are the largest glacial lakes in the world. NASA photo via Wikipedia

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Great Lakes in Sunglint (NASA, International S...

Great Lakes in Sunglint (NASA, International Space Station, 06/14/12) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)


Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

July 19, 2013

Superior Fury - Lake Superior near Miner’s Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore during a gale at sunrise.  Photo: Steve Perry

Superior Fury – Lake Superior near Miner’s Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore during a gale at sunrise. Photo: Steve Perry, via America’s Great Outdoors

Admit it:  That’s not how you usually think of Lake Superior, is it?

Tip of the old scrub brush to America’s Great Outdoor on Tumblr.

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DDT and other poisons in the Great Lakes: Alma Conference update

March 30, 2008

Earlier this month, just before the conference at Alma College, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a draft report on toxic wastes found in the Great Lakes and other surrounding waters. Was it the pending conference that kicked the thing loose?

See the report at CDC’s site, here.

The Center for Public Integrity snagged a copy of the study earlier, and published it at their website. Some of us infer the hurdles for the report to be more the administration’s War on Science. But supression of a report is a lot easier if there are no copies circulating on the internet.

CDC had sat on the report for most of a year. After this interview of Chris Derosa, the report’s author appeared on CNN, and before the Alma Conference on DDT, CDC got a sudden change of heart and released the report.

Too few news reports came out of the conference. Let’s hope the proceedings will be available soon.

Logo from the CPI project on Great Lakes health

Logo from the Center for Public Interest project on Great Lakes area health, used at the release of the suppressed health report.


War on Science: CDC publishes suppressed study

March 15, 2008

On the eve of a major conference on health effects of DDT, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control published a study it had suppressed for several months, detailing pollution effects in the Great Lakes area. The author of the study, demoted but still outspoken, was grudgingly granted permission to attend the Kenaga International Conference on DDT and Health, which opened yesterday at Alma College in Alma, Michigan.

Alma Conference logo

Science won the skirmish, getting the study pried out of CDC. News coverage of the conference stopped short of spectacular so far: Only local Michigan media outlets provided coverage. If we won the war, but no one knew . . . ?

The Morning Sun suggested that further studies of health effects in the area are required, and that no successful cleanup of a toxic site is ever done without health studies showing the need.

[Jane] Keon[, chairwoman of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force] hasn’t read the entire report but did read the portions about Gratiot County.

“There’s no new information, and everything mentioned is well-known and verified by ATSDR and CDC,” she said. “I understand that in addition to 200 researchers and much peer review the report data was reviewed by state and local health departments in the areas of concern without the complaint that the science was weak.

“We in the task force view the report as further proof that a full-blown health study is needed in Gratiot County. From our own studies we also know that communities with contaminated sites that have a health study to point to get very thorough cleanups, while communities that do not have a health study do not get thorough cleanups.”

The task force has twice applied for grants to perform a comprehensive local heath study but were turned down both times.

“The reasons offered (for rejection) seemed lame and illogical,” Keon said. “One time we were told that we didn’t have enough data, and yet that is why we desired the health study – to have a scientific collection of data.”

A citizens’ group in Washington, D.C., the Center for Public Integrity, obtained a copy of the study last year and made it available on the internet. There is no indication I can find of whether there were changes made in the study between the leaking and the formal publication.


Cold, Clear and Deadly

June 28, 2007

Title of a book that documents and discusses the omnipresence of DDT and related pesticides in waters all over the world, even in places far from any known application, such as the Arctic and Antarctic.

Author Melvin J. Visser wrote a tribute to Rachel Carson at his blog, also called Cold, Clear and Deadly.

Cover of Cold, Clear and Deadly, by Melvin J. Visser.  Michigan State University Press

Cover of Cold, Clear and Deadly, by Melvin J. Visser. Michigan State University Press; at Thrift Books

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