1sunfight’s Weblog

July 6, 2008

The Battle for Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes

Filed under: Environment,politics — Julie P @ 2:31 pm

I grew up three miles from Lake Michigan; Lake Michigan was a part of my life, always there always present. I would move away from Milwaukee in my early twenties believing Lake Michigan would always be there, wild, brooding, beautiful, and unchanged.

I would go to its beaches to look at the Lake; it was never the same color twice. One time I paid the Lake a visit during the winter; the Lake was a luminous blue with a thin layer of fog floating on the top, and a full moon dancing above it. I had never seen the Lake like that before and have not seen it that way since. It was an ethereal vision; a vision that will remain with me until I draw my last breath.

Lake Michigan would provide those who would come to live along its shores with blankets of light snow in the winter and haven during the hot, humid summer months. The Lake served as a backdrop for the fireworks that were set off every night during the summer, and the musical festivals along Milwaukee’s downtown shoreline.

The Lake had its stories about shipping and French explorers. Lafayette came to the Upper Midwest via the Great Lakes and would come to trade with the native inhabitants there. Later Lake Michigan would become a vital shipping channel for those who lived along it. My father was one of the people who would come to earn a living from shipping on the Great Lakes. He worked for a railroad that included shipping as a part of its business.

Lake Michigan was always a source of food, and water. Yes, the water; the water that was and still is 25% of the world’s fresh water supply. The eight states and the one Canadian province that line its shores would become the stewards of all of the Great Lakes; a role that has become as essential as life itself, because it has become a matter of life itself. The battle to save the Great Lakes is on.

Today the life of my beloved Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes are under severe stress. It has become an environmental nightmare with invading foreign species getting free rides from sea going ships that is killing off the natural inhabitants of the Lakes. Algae is choking the shores, and mussels are “cleaning” the lake. It has become a hostile environment. But, that is not the only problem the Great Lakes is facing, they are vanishing. Water levels are dropping at an alarming rate, several feet in the twenty years since I moved away. The problem is twofold: the US Army Corp of Engineers along with its Canadian counterparts created a channel of sorts for the Great Lakes that has fallen to ruin over the years. The channel has fallen victim to erosion, which is one way the Lakes are losing water. The Great Lakes are also warming up. No longer are the Great Lakes getting the ice pack that covered them during the winter months when I lived there. The ice pacts are needed to help prevent the water from evaporating. It is a frightening scenario the nine governors and the International Joint Commission are grappling with. They are looking for ways to reverse the damage done and restore the Great Lakes. They are also in a political battle to save the commission that made them stewards of the Great Lakes. To exacerbate the problem regions within the United States want to pilfer the Lakes for their water. The desert southwest wants the water to fill growing demand for it because of an exploding population. There is also a desire to use the water in the Upper Great Plains for crops. The water is also wanted in the southeastern United States as well because there has not been a mechanism put in place to deal with cyclical droughts that are common to the area.

As a former resident from the Great Lakes region, an American citizen, and a member of planet earth; I am outraged of the abuses that has taken place since I moved away and I am deeply troubled by the selfishness of states in other regions of the United States. However, I would like to point out that certain states are not all to blame. Over the years I have visited the website of the International Joint Commission where the governor of the Canadian province of Ontario has done battle with abuses coming from the Canadian side of the border.

The battle is on to restore and preserve the Great Lakes. I hope there is enough time and enough sense.

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