Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Report On Great Lakes & The Threat Of Global Warming

May 28: A new report from the Healing Our Waters®- (HOW) Great Lakes Coalition indicates that "the Great Lakes can lessen the impact of global warming or become global warming’s victim -- it all depends on Congress." The authors urged Congress to enact a comprehensive plan to restore the health of the Great Lakes. Donald Scavia, Ph.D., report co-author and professor of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan said, “Climate change is already affecting the Great Lakes, and no matter what we do now, the those impacts will increase in the future. But we can counter those impacts by restoring the Great Lakes to make them more resilient. At the same time, we need strong national efforts to cut greenhouse gas pollution so that the impacts don’t become so severe that they overwhelm the Great Lakes.”

The report, Great Lakes Restoration & The Threat of Global Warming, synthesizes current climate change science and presents the likely impacts warming temperatures will have on the lakes, including lower lake levels, more sewage overflows, and increased pressure to divert Great Lakes water. The report describes impacts including: increased temperatures of 5.4 to 10.8 degrees relative to what was typical from 1961-1990; increased evaporation from warming lakes; lake levels declines during the next century of 1-3 feet depending on the lake; worsening water quality leading to drinking water impacts, beach closings, and higher costs to water suppliers; biological dead zones will increase, jeopardizing fish and other aquatic life; and changes in forests and grasslands.

The report recommends several federal policy solutions, including: Restoring the Great Lakes through full funding and implementation of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, a comprehensive plan put forward by more than 1,500 citizens and backed by the region’s mayors, governors and Congressional delegation; Protecting the Great Lakes from water diversions by passing the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact, a regional agreement to ban diversions outside the region and promoting conservation within the region; Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit the magnitude of change to our climate and ecosystems; and, Generating ecosystem restoration funding through federal global warming legislation.

Access a release with further details and links to the full 36-page report and a presentation (click here).