Infestation in the Great Lakes

(ScienceDailly LLC)

(ScienceDailly LLC)

I am from a town with two lakes, Lake Michigan and its one of its tributaries Muskegon Lake. They have been a fishing destination for the most part of my life. As an avid fisherman, I can say that fishing in Lake Michigan or a tributary of Lake Michigan in Muskegon Lake angers me when compared with other lakes. The problem I have comes through a bothersome, ample species: The Goby.

When fishing in Lake Michigan or its tributaries around Muskegon with a live worm, I don’t have much fun. I w set my fishing pole in the water briefly and within seconds I will have a tiny Goby (only about an inch or two long) on my line, which is no fun to reel in. They never stop biting and seem to be endless. You cannot eat or clean them because they are very tiny. Goby are very pesky because they are so small, hard to hook, and often steal my bait. We are supposed to kill every single Goby caught.

The Gobies gained access into the Great Lakes and its tributaries in 1990. They came from the Black and Caspian Sea areas of Eastern Europe. They got to the Great Lakes via big ships and vessels. Gobies look as portrayed, “Round Gobies can reach up to 10 inches in length as adults, but usually they are less than 7 inches long in the Great Lakes. Females and immature male round Gobies are a mottled gray and brown color. Spawning males turn almost solid black. Round Gobies have a soft body and a large, rounded head with eyes that protrude near the top” (USGS).

So what is the problem with Gobies and why are they such a big deal? I personally have noticed that they spawn like crazy, eat other species food and eggs, and survive in almost all climates. To prove my observation “Once round gobies arrive they can become the dominant fish species. Round Gobies prefer rocky, shallow areas, but have flourished in a variety of habitat types. Regardless of the habitat, round Gobies are very aggressive fish that compete with native fishes for food and space. Anglers who fish in areas with round Gobies often find that the gobies steal their bait and appear to be the only type of fish in the area”(USGS). Gobies make it hard for fish close to extinction to survive and affect the population of other fish previously thriving.

Eric Weinberg

Sources:

http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/main.php?content=research_invasive_goby&title=Invasive%20Fish0&menu=research_invasive_fish  (Round Goby: An Exotic fish in the Great Fact Sheet)

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Michigan’s Turtles; A Warning for Change

The Michigan turtle is a profound example of the influence contaminated and deteriorating water systems have on social and culture traditions.  The Great Lakes Woodland Indians have recognized and respected the turtle throughout their history.  Mackinac Island shows this reverence, for it means, “Great turtle” in Ottawa language.  Turtles, according to oral stories and traditions, represent peace, patience, and most often, long life.

But Michigan turtles, in recent years, have become endangered.  And the reasons are evident: increased development has allowed for runoff of contaminants into watersheds, increased traffic volumes, and predators.

But turtles only represent one of the smaller issues for Native American communities and culture.  Water deterioration continues to affect and destroy many sacred practices of Native American life.  Now the issues that remains is how to balance between respect for the Native American tribe’s cultural connection with water, with the mass use of water in the United States by industries, residences, and commercial enterprises alike.

What needs to be implemented in the future is an increased awareness and understanding of the cultural significance of water in native communities as well as more developed collaborations amongst tribal leaders and interested parties.  In recent years there has been such improvements in these matters.

One such example is National Geographic’s article on how climate change is linked to waterborne diseases in Inuit Communities.  The report found that as global warming triggers heavier rainfall and faster snowmelt in the Arctic, Inuit communities in Canada are reporting more cases of illness attributed to pathogens that have washed into surface water and groundwater.  The startling implications, however, is that native communities worldwide are disproportionately affected by climate change because of their intimate cultural and spiritual connections with water.  But the silver lining in the article is that a cultural-specific lens is now being applied to such areas of scientific research.  This blending of culture and science is making great strides in the ways marginalized communities are able to adapt and survive when such ecological problems are thrown at them.

Alex Krevitz

Sources:

http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/…/climate-change-waterborne-diseases-inuit/

Burning Michigan

The great michigan fire on december 8 1871 was a very devastating event wich several towns and cities all over michigan were very affected by it. as we all know wildfires can start anywere were is drought, high temperatures or any hazard that can start a fire. the great michigan fire was believed got started by a meteor shower, or lighting that lit up the vegetation. the towns who were most affected by the wild fires were Holland, Manistee, Port Huron also the great wisconsin fire also affected towns in upper michigan. damaged by wildfires can be serious to the enviroment including forest vegetation, including to buildings, peoples houses business as well as casualties can occur at any moment. the damged produce by the wildfire in michigan destroyed many houses, farms, barns and mills. these people lost all their patrimony in the fire some of them even lost relatives and neighbors in the fire. the goverment did not pay for any of the damages or any repairs to houses and buildings still standing. the fire caused alot of damged this was just a small demostration of what wildfires can do it was not as devastating, but it could of been worse. the impact was mainly done on michigans forest and vegetation many white pine wich were located in the forest were burnt down by the fire. the goverment needed to have an insurance policy provided to every citizen in case this happens again as well as educate the people of michigan on what to do during a fire and how to prevent them from spreading before they get too wild. the fire department needs to come up with evacuation plans and ways to contain the fire to prevent as much damage as possible. there has to be rescue plans for the people who are trapped in the fire to prevent casualties. the great michigan fire caused minimum damages but it couldnt of been worse if temperatures were higher and the fire was not contain. it is very importatnt to educate ourselves about natural hazards like this one to prevent a catastrophe.

http://io9.com/great-michigan-fire/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Michigan_Fire

Abraham Garza

Here fishy fishy fishy…

I remember the early crisp mornings waking up grabbing my fishing pole and heading to Lake Michigan to try and catch that trophy fish I’ve always wanted to catch. As it turns out I never caught that fish but I am still trying to reel in that trophy fish from our natural beauty we call Lake Michigan. But my childhood dreams could end up being crushed by a flying fish that smacks me right in the face! I’m talking about the Asian carp, an evasive species that is a danger to the Great Lakes Region. The Asian carp was introduced into the U.S. in the 1970’s to filter pond water in fish farms in Arkansas when a flood allowed them to escape and establish reproducing populations in the wild by the early 1980’s. These evasive species originated in Arkansas and now have been found in 23 states and are currently in the Illinois River in the direction of the Great Lakes.

A lot of you might be thinking “what can a little fishy do that could harm our Lakes?” Well the problem with Asian carp is they are a voracious filter feeder, meaning they consume up to 20% of their body weight per day in plankton (small floating organisms that are food for fish and other organisms, essential to our native fish) and these carp can grow up to be 100 lbs. and will strip away all of our natural species food supply, starving them into dwindling numbers. These fish also are known for their jumping ability when a motor boat is running. The sound of the motor drives them hurling out of the water and at boaters causing injury to people. The carp have no natural predators in North America and they lay half a million eggs each time they spawn. The U.S. Geological survey found 22 rivers in the U.S. portion of the Great Lakes that would provide suitable spawning habitat for Asian carp and the temperature of the great lakes are within the fish’s native climate range making the great lakes a perfect home for them. If this evasive species destroys our native fish we lose a big portion of our food supply and tons of fisherman will go out of business because the asian carpet is an unwanted fish due to its horrible taste

These fish almost seem unstoppable, so how are we to stop them? Well a few proposals have emerged over the years but the U.S. Army Corps of engineers is working on a few solutions that may not be introduced till 2015, but currently have emplaced and maintain three electric barriers to prevent this evasive species from enter the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Council has been in a debate over closing the waterways but Chicago is against the idea due to the amount of business that travels through the waterways and the potential of flooding to occur. I feel that we should continue with the electric barriers for now, but we should add more barriers in tributaries of the Great Lakes and we should bump up the voltage to guarantee that they do not enter. At the same time we can have people set up charter fishing trips where they can hunt the carp with bow and arrows, harpoons, and nets while we wait until the U.S. Army of Engineers have discovered a more promising solution.

-Lance Gilbert
http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Conservation/Threats-to-Wildlife/Invasive-Species/Asian-Carp.aspx
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/us/in-great-lakes-states-a-divide-over-the-asian-carp.html

Planting Wind Mills in the Great Lakes

ImageThe White House has taken up an interest in wind energy developments in the Great Lakes regions as of last month. The goal is to plant windmills in the Great Lakes in order to gain wind energy from the lake winds. This could be a pioneering break through for Michigan because electricity would become more economically accessible. Launched in the water last week in the middle of Lake Michigan was a yellow buoy that will be used to measure and collect data from wind at different heights. Although this project has  finally taken off, it faced difficulties and still is under the threat of being shut down due to lack of financial resources. $1.3 million that was originally supposed to come from a state grant through the Michigan Public Service Commission was cancelled by a court ruling last year. Despite this devastating draw back on funding, the buoy was launched and built on $1.2 million from the Department of Energy along with $250,00o from a Wisconsin utility. As of currently this buoy is one of two in the North American region and could be at risk of being docked by 2013 because of lack of funding. Grand Valley State University has reached out to the University of Michigan, Michigan State and Michigan Technological universities for aide in collecting research over the Great Lakes. This research includes the studying and tracking of flight patterns for birds and bats so that the turbines aren’t build in areas that put these animals in danger.

Currently Michigan holds the manufacturing skills to produce wind turbines and can benefit significantly economically from wind energy. This pioneering in wind technology in Michigan can help create jobs, make access to energy more economical and benefit the environment. “Why export” and lose out of this powerful opportunity to change Michigan’s economy.

Sabree’ Caver

This Article:

http://www.freep.com/

Federal government, 5 states put wind farms on fast track

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2012203310399

Wind Power

http://topics.nytimes.com/

Conveinant Misinformation

We all watched An Inconvenient Truth in class a few weeks ago. For me it was the first time I had seen it. I’ve always heard great things about it, but was never really interested in it. Turns out I was right in feeling that way. I disagree with, and question nearly everything stated by Mr. Gore in that movie. Everything is just his word, with little more than “scientists” to back him up. Who are these scientists? We are never given any names or credentials. We never see them. We never hear what they actually have to say. The only thing this movie has convinced me of is that Al Gore has no idea what the scientific process is. This seemed little more than an exercise in fear mongering through sensationalism and a great vehicle for some political campaign.

Let’s start at the beginning. Mr. Gore states that one of his professors started measuring CO2 in 1957 in the middle of the pacific. After just a few years of taking these measurements it was concluded that levels were rising and we were in for some trouble. Hold on now, the Earth is hundreds of millions of years old. You really expect me to believe that with just 10 years of measurements you can tell whether or not this is out of the norm for our planet? 10 years for the Earth is less time than it takes to blink, relatively speaking. He goes on to say that by taking ice cores we can measure atmospheric gases going back 650,000 years. Well that’s better, but it’s still not enough. When looking at that timeline, yes, it would seem CO2 levels have risen. But if you look back 500 million years we’ve practically bottomed out. Currently we’re concerned about CO2 being at 300 ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere. In the Cambrian period CO2 levels reached 7000 ppm. That is inconceivably higher than today’s levels. Think about it this way, the Earth’s current average temperature is roughly 60 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on who you ask. How many reptiles do you see running around on a 60 degree day? Not many. And these ones are small, it doesn’t take nearly as much heat and energy to warm them up as it would a two ton reptile. So imagine a planet full of two ton reptiles running around. It would have to be pretty warm right? Well it was. The average temperature 500 – 600 million years ago, and actually throughout most of history, is about 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit. I know that doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but spread across the entire globe, it really is. There’s one more thing I’d like to mention about his graph that showed the last 650,000 years. He said it was the first time anyone outside of a very small group of scientists had ever seen the image. So this image was never put under peer review? To be scrutinized and analyzed by the rest of the scientific community? Well then by definition it’s not yet proven. It’s still only a theory.

It was also stated that at some point recently relative to the development of the movie that many areas in the U.S. “broke all-time records with high temperatures and number of consecutive days with a 100 degree temperature or more.” That’s cute. I like those little bits when I watch the news. Then I can go around and point out to people that I ended up moving across town on the hottest day we’ve had in 15 years. Recorded temperatures only go back to about the early 1900’s. It’s really meaningless. Gore also points out the “drunken trees” of the north tundra. He claims that they lean every which way because the permafrost is melting and the roots are losing their hold. Wrong. That is absolutely, stupidly wrong. Tree roots never stop growing, it’s like hair. And if they happen to hit something hard, they keep pushing until they find a way to go, be it up or down or just straight through. If roots just stopped whenever they hit something hard we’d never have to repair our sidewalks. I guarantee once the permafrost began to soften those roots took off at a million miles an hour. If those trees are tilting, it’s not because of that. It’s also suspicious to me that he only showed the tops of the trees, not the base. Seems like you would want to show the ground and roots in question. Unless of course you know it’s not true.

And through all of this every time Gore is shown working in his car it’s a nice big Mercedes. I guess not even global warming is worth being seen in a Prius.

-Justin Bell

Sources:

http://www.usnews.com/…/scientist-carbon-dioxide-doesnt-cause-global-warming

http://www.ncpa.org/pdfs/GlobalWarmingPrimer.pdf

Invasive Species in Novi, Michigan

According to the article “Environment Issues and Resources, “an invasive plant species is any species that has been introduced into an ecosystem to which the species is not indigenous and which has a tendency to spread rapidly.” These species, which fall outside of their natural habitat, can come from foreign countries and even people who  simply transport the organism within the same country, not being aware of the dangers it can actually cause.  Not only do these organisms pose a problem on the environment, but they can also become an issue with humans and the economy. Invasive species become dangerous as they spread quickly and overpopulate native species which do not recognize the omen.

Cities and countries throughout our entire world experience issues with invasive species. One specific area within the United States is Novi, Michigan, a city on the lower, east side of the state near Detroit. The main issue within this city deals with invasive plant species. Such devastating species in this area include the following: purple loosestrife, common reed (as shown in the picture above), tree of heaven, multiflora rose, English ivy, and garlic mustard. Often times, people fail to realize that these specific plants are considered to be invasive and fail to take the necessary precautions. Therefore, these species can have a negative impact on the biodiversity, water conditions, soil, native insects, etc. on the area.

Another location within/near Michigan in which invasive species have become an issue is the Great Lakes. According to the article “Ten Threats: Hidden Costs of Invasives” large foreign ocean-liners  have been responsible for carrying these invasive species into the area. Although nearly one hundred and sixty organisms have been accidentally transported into this area, zebra mussels are considered the most widely invasive species of the great lakes.

Since many places deal with the common issue of invasive species, it is important for people to understand the negative repercussions these organisms have on one’s ecosystem.

– Jennifer Klepser

Bibliography:

#1.  “Environmental Issues and Resources.” City of Novi Michigan. 2012. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://www.cityofnovi.org/services/commdev/environmentalissuesandresources.asp>.

#2.  “Ten Threats: Hidden Costs of Invasives.” The Environment Report. 2010. Web. 21 Apr. 2012. <http://environmentreport.org/story.php?story_id=2795>.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Alright, yes, Christmas 2011 seems like a distant memory now that it is mid-April and the end of the school year and summer are within our grasps. Yet, in the same breath, it seems as though we never really left last summer. What I mean by this is that we had a very mild fall and winter that led into an unusually warm spring. In fact, some cities in Michigan have recorded some of the lowest amounts of snow falling in their history. Some places only saw an average of 5 inches in a given month.  This makes it seem like we did not really have a winter and it does not seem like another school year should be wrapping up yet.

So, I must ask the question: with the strange temperatures Michigan has experienced this past year, is this to be expected in the coming years?

Some Michiganders may be rejoicing over the fact that this past year has been fairly mild while others are quite upset at the lack of their snow. No matter which camp you fall in, one should be consciously questioning what could be causing this phenomenon. Some say that it is a naturally occurring cycle within the weather patterns that have been experienced over the past decades, while others argue that the lack of snow is due to greater environmental issues at hand, such as global warming. No matter the cause or the answer to these problems, the results of lack of snow will not only result in disappointed snow-enthusiasts, but by the actual environment.

Michigan will be particularly hurt by this in the matter of the crops it produces as well as the water it has. The lack of snow over the past year will have a deep affect on the water levels of the lakes, which will in turn impact further weather patterns and industries.

http://www.mlive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/12/lack_of_december_snow_shatters.html

http://articles.boston.com/2012-01-18/news/30639917_1_snowfall-snowy-winter-snow-depth

http://thumbwind.com/2012/01/29/warm-temperatures-lack-of-snow-mean-lower-water-levels-for-great-lakes-in-months-ahead/

Breanne Zost

Global Warming; the next big World Crisis?

Global WarmingIt is clear that in politics and in the daily lives of just about everyone on the planet, global warming is an issue that could potentially effect us all. There seems to be a lot of evidence that shows our ice caps and glaciers are melting faster than we can control. This tends to scare a lot of people, and causes people to believe that global warming is happening faster than it should naturally. It goes without saying that man has greatly affected this process, with all of our pollution, manufacturing, and factories. When we think of these aspects, our first thoughts are to go to that of carbon dioxide and the burning of fossil fuels to be able to produce all that we do. Due to this, scientists and politicians are trying to find ways to mitigate the effects of global warming, and looking into different types of sustainable energy to counteract the effects before they start to get worse. A lot of times, this can be very expensive though, and some people are not always willing to fork over large amounts of money, and just want other people to pay the price, as they sometimes feel it won’t affect them in their lifetime.

For many, it is believed that Earth is going through a rapid warming period. Just like in the movie An Inconvenient Truth with Al Gore, there are many different statistics, graphs, and some proof people believe. For right here in Michigan and in other areas in the Midwest near the Great Lakes, there has been recent proof that the temperature is slowly getting warmer. In fact, in the next century or so, nighttime temperatures are supposed to surpass that of daytime temperatures and extreme heat will become more common in this area. Although precipitation levels overall will not change, when precipitation happens and seasonal precipitation is said it will change drastically, changing how we view the weather in our region.

Sean Steinberg

http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2011/09/global_warming_the_campus_non-.html

An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore

http://www.ucsusa.org/greatlakes/glimpactmigrating.html

The Simple but Effective Truth

This winter was one of the warmest winters on record (actually, the second warmest).  The warm weather could be seen as a blessing in regards to heating bills. Warmer winters obviously mean less need to crank up the thermostat, and the less need for electric, oil, and wood fueled heat, the less carbon dioxide will be released into the atmosphere. So, warmer winters are good for saving money and they eliminate some release of carbon dioxide in the times of the year when there is typically more in the atmosphere. It can be agreed that those are some substantial positives.

 The above chart shows the impact of the emerald ash borer from the the heaviest hit areas (the darker areas) to the least hit area ( the lighter colors).

The destruction of trees leads to less sequestration of carbon dioxide as has been the case with other forms of deforestation. That makes the amount CO2 in the atmosphere as a whole rise, and that which once was a positive has pulled an Anakin Skywalker and joined the dark side. So, in short, warm winters are short term positive with a harsh long term negative.

The only mitigation that I see as potentially effective would be that which has already been stressed since the national awakening that has seemingly taken place in regards to global warming and greenhouse gases. We need to plant more trees, cut back consumption of nonrenewable resources, conserve whenever possible, and keep up ongoing research for cleaner energy (that which is, of course, feasible). In the end, the best mitigation strategy is not to switch or developing new ones, it is to escalate the concentration of them. Michigan specifically is in need of this escalation to counteract a possible, extreme threat: the ash borer. We are now left with a choice regarding this threat, and this choice carries much impact on us as Michiganders, Michigeese, and U.S. citizens in general. Pesticides (and the possible side effects that come with them) should be put on the wayside and, instead, conservation, alternative energy solutions, and planting trees are all options that must be seriously considered.

The news station I used
http://www.fox17online.com/news/fox17-second-warmest-winter-recorded-for-west-michigan-20120301,0,538

the newspaper I used
http://www.thetimesherald.com/article/2

this is the site for the chart i used
http://blog.mlive.com/advancenewspapers_news/2008/03/large_EmeraldAshBorerMap.jpg

Aric Ashby