Tag Archives: Environment

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

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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

Tornadoes in Michigan

Tornado Touches Down in Michigan

Typically when people think about tornadoes they think about the midwest region including Kansas, and other states in the tornado alley like Tennessee and Oklahoma. What some people don’t know is that tornadoes really effect everyone, especially us here in Michigan. Recently there have been various tornadoes here in Michigan. They effected a lot of people and destroyed several houses. Even if you, personally have not been through a tornado you at least know someone who has been through one, and everyone knows that they can be devastating causing lots of physical and emotional distress.

In March of 2012 three tornadoes touched down in Dexter, MI. They destroyed power lines and severely damaged many houses. When these tornadoes touched down they did not injure anyone, but they did damage houses. Along with the tornadoes came a lot of severe weather. There were over 200 reports of severe weather around this time.

The police said that there was going to be a lot of work needed to repair the damage of houses and power lines. With this tornado came bad storms. At times there were baseball size hail, which also damaged houses and buildings.

Typically, tornadoes are accompanied by severe weather, whether it be strong winds, or actual storms

The tornado that touched down in Dexter caused a lot of damage to the whole city. According to CBS News, “damaging or demolishing more than 100 homes, downing trees and power lines, sparking fires and flooding neighborhood roads.”

There is no way t prevent tornadoes from happening, but it is very important that everyone knows what to do when one comes. It is important to have shelter from a tornado; stay away from the windows and head to the basement. The fact that people do not know exactly what to do in the case of a tornado is a serious problem because they could be in real danger. It is very important that people get educated on tornado safety.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/tornado-rips-michigan-destroys-damages-100-homes/story?id=15934113#.T5Blao7ampI

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57398576/tornado-slams-michigan-homes-spares-lives/

India Houston

Zebra Mussel Infestation

Anyone familiar with the Great Lakes has heard of Zebra Mussels. The little stripped mollusks have been on the steady incline since their introduction to the Great Lakes about two decades ago, and have caused great concern for scientists and sportsman alike. Being an invasive species that have practically no natural predators, their population has caused numerous problems with local species, sport fishing, and even lake dependent industry. Understanding the nature and reason behind these problem creatures is the beginning to their eradication.

The Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) is a small mollusk that grows up to 2 inches wide, and lives for about 5 years. They are native to Russia, and previously to 1988 were never seen in North America. The leading theory as to how they arrived is that they were taken on in bilge water on European cargo ships, and discharged on the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair. Because a female Zebra Mussel can lie between 30,000 and a million eggs, their population exploded; and the environment has not responded well to their introduction.
The Zebra Mussel can filter up to a quart of water a day and with their numbers, have changed entire ecosystems. A good indicator of a heavy infestation (aside from visual confirmation), is observing a body go from cloudy to clear in a relatively short amount of time; though clear water may benefit some plant growth and plant eating fish, this merely serves a minor positive in an overall bad situation. In addition to starving other aquatic creatures by filtering out all the nutrients in the water, they also are known to anchor themselves onto living creatures, occasionally hindering them to immobility.
Industry and Utilities have also felt the toll from Zebra Mussels. Ships, ports, and fisheries often find themselves under siege by the never ending hoards of Zebra Mussels clinging to hulls, docks, nets, pipes, etc. Industry dependent on a constant flow of fresh water from the great lakes often find it necessary to remove masses of them from inlet pipes in order to prevent restricting the flow of water. This is particularly hazardous to nuclear power plants, which depend on the cool lake water to keep the reactors from overheating.
Current attempts to curb the Zebra Mussels ever increasing populations have overall been ineffective. Tough there a few animals that have begun feeding on them (perch, catfish, sunfish, and a few others) they still are pretty much safe from predators. Chemicals such as chlorine have been effective, but unfortunately it pretty much kills everything, including the environment that we are trying to preserve, so its use has been limited. Until a more effective means of removing them are discovered, the best we can do is brace for even more of them.
Anthony Antonelli
http://www.nationalatlas.gov/articles/biology/a_zm.html
http://www.glsc.usgs.gov/

Hydroelectric power: Outdated practice or overlooked possibility?

Living in Michigan you would assume it to be a no brainer that if we could use water to create energy we should, right? Then why are hydroelectric dams throughout Michigan actually being removed?  The main reason is many of the dams in Michigan are extremely outdated and don’t create enough energy to sustain much of anything. Dam building occurred early in the 1900’s until the mid 1930’s. The principle element of a dam is to utilize the natural flow of falling water to rotate a turbine that sends currents to a generator ultimately creating electricity. The volume of the water and the height from which it falls determines how many megawatts of electricity a dam can create. By the late 1970’s many dams across Michigan were shut down. Most were created to supply cheap electricity for lumber mills and small entities of the time. Lack of sufficient energy creation and their scattered nature has led to cease in use. Today many of Michigan’s dams are actually being removed. But does the cost outweigh the benefits?

The current attitude in Michigan is there is more value in removing the dams, than retrofitting them to restore hydroelectric production. Federal funds are more readily available for removing dams because of the positive environmental impacts. Dams have a detrimental effect on the natural flow and ebb of a river’s ecosystem. The removal of dams allows for normal sediment load dispersal and provides open passageways for fish to move up and down stream. However simply removing the dam doesn’t immediately restore the natural river channel alone. The circumstances differ greatly from site to site. Readings provided examples of altering river flow upstream or use of special culverts to mimic historical river tendencies and return the river channels to their previous states before the dams.

Overall I think Michigan should find a way to harness hydroelectric power because there is so much water around us. However the practice of damming a river and disrupting the natural ecosystems may have a much greater effect than providing cheap electricity. Also in the articles a new exploratory form of electricity creation with water was discussed. It is called hydrokinetic. It is energy created using the natural flow of water and can create power with turbines placed in a flowing water environment. This science is a better option because it produces cheap and clean energy from water without the cost of blocking, rerouting and disturbing the natural river ecosystem.

Sources:

“Removing Dams is Best Option for a Healthy Aquatic Environment” http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10366_46403_59159-207826–,00.html

“Renewable hydroelectric power in Michigan” http://www.ferris.edu/energy/presentations/2010/Mich-Hydroelectric-James-Bernier-Consumers-Energy.pdf

ARIK ZALESKI