Sep
18
2008

Great week to be a Great Lake

This seems to be a big week for the Great Lakes, especially their restoration and preservation. The Great Lakes Legacy Act is making its way through Congress; presidential candidate Barack Obama has promised to set up a five billion dollar trust fund for protection of the 5 inland seas (in the spirit of non-partisan fairness here’s the Republicans’ response); the new Omnifilm, Mysteries of the Great Lakes just opened and is playing here at the SMM Omnitheater; and a new debate has started regarding the long-held practice of swabbing debris from the decks of Great Lake freighters once they get out on the lakes.

Great Lakes from space: Photo by NASA
Great Lakes from space: Photo by NASA
The five Great Lakes, Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario contain something like 20 percent of the world’s fresh water, and are the source of drinking water for millions of Canadians and Americans who live around them. I grew up along the shores of Lake Superior (our hillside neighborhood in Duluth set on the prehistoric lake bottom of a larger Ice Age ancestor) so I’m partial to good old Gichigami and its siblings, and I’m really glad to see some serious attention is being paid to their clean-up and preservation.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

bryan kennedy's picture

The Mysteries of the Great Lakes omni film got a great review in the Pioneer Press yesterday. I'm excited to see some dry suit diving action.

posted on Thu, 09/18/2008 - 12:09pm
lt's picture
lt says:

The photo posted above is a great view from space of the Great Lakes. I am always amazed to look at a globe of map, especially one that just shows the land masses and ocean and not the countries and how the Great Lakes are one of the first recognizable features. In the Benchmarks for Science Literacy www.project2061.org/publications/bsl/online/index.php there is a section on the Use of Earth's Resources. The Great Lakes debate is a current science and societal issue that can be used for all of us including 6-8th grade students to understand that:

AAAS Atlas, The Physical Setting, Use of Earth's Resources (4B)
"Freshwater, limited in supply, is essential for some organisms and industrial processes. Wate in rivers, Lakes, and underground can be depleted or polluted, making it unavailable of unsuitable for life (4B/M8)

In Minnesota we are currently reviewing and revising our state science standards, the new standards are on-line at the MN Dept of Ed site. I plan to participate in the public meeting and provide comments. This is an opportunity to improve upon the existing standards and increase the emphasis on global environmental issue like the supply of freshwater, global warming and other limited Earth Resources

posted on Fri, 09/19/2008 - 8:15am
mdr's picture
mdr says:

The harbor in Duluth, MN receives more untreated ship ballast than any of the other Great Lakes. Ballast carries with it invasive species from distant port cities and releases them into local waters when the ballast is dumped (see graphic).

"[Invasive species] come in and compete with native organisms for food, and you get an imbalance that upsets the ecosystem," according to Mary Jean Fenske, manager of the MPCA vessel discharge program.

A story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune details how the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency isn't waiting to the federal government to act against this problem.

A state ban is being proposed that would require ships to treat their ballast before dumping it in Minnesota waters. Opponents say state-by-state requirements would be a regulation nightmare for the shipping industry and that the problem requires a federal solution.

posted on Tue, 09/23/2008 - 9:36am

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