Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Great Lakes

Recently I was on a vacation trip to Manitoulin Island in Ontario (Canada)

(In case you wondered what or where that is, check here).

It's a very nice place. It can get a bit cold at night, which is not surprising considering it is roughly at the same latitude as Northern Minnesota and Michigan's Upper Peninsula (places where summer typically lasts about a week and a half). But there are several nice beaches and plenty of sights to see, and a whole lot of isolated spots for folks who want to get away from civilization (the largest town on the island contains roughly 1800 people--there are more deer than people living on this island.)

Or, at least, there WERE several nice beaches.

You see, the Great Lakes are at their lowest level in decades. So all over the island, what were once pristine sandy beaches are now mosquito-infested, goose-crap covered swamps, teeming with bacteria (I picked up a bacterial infection from one of them that landed me in the emergency room.)

This fact should scare everyone on a number of levels. The Great Lakes account for roughly 22% of the world's supply of fresh water. They supply water to nearly every state and province that touches one of them. And they are being heavily overused.

They also act as a conduit for international shipping, which is a source of invasive species that threaten their delicate ecosystems.

Anyway, to make a long story short: Humans are slowly and systematically killing the Great Lakes. And if we don't stop doing it, the Great Lakes region is going to face a water crisis that is going to make what the western states are going through look like a 2-week drought in comparison.

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