Tag Archives: Michigan

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/

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

Michigan Farmers Fear Frost

Frozen leaves may look pretty, but farmers hate themIn the past two months, Michigan residents have been enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures and many people been loving weather. Everyone except for one large part of the population, Michigan farmers, is embracing the warmth. This spring, farmers have been busy at work trying to plant crops for the upcoming season. Unfortunately the weather in Michigan has been even busier making the farmers’ job even harder. The recent slew of very warm weather followed by freezing temperatures has made deciding when to plant an issue for farmers. There have been overnight and early morning frosts on some days that can kill or damage plants that the farmers have planted. This means that farmers could lose part or all of their planted crops if the weather continues to be this unpredictable.

There is also another problem with the unseasonable warmth. Michigan farms rely heavily on the help of migrant workers to help hand-pick some crops such as asparagus, one of Michigan’s marquee crops. Unfortunately, the migrant workers are in other parts of the country right now and don’t arrive to Michigan for at least another month. This means that frost is an even bigger problem because without as much help, the crops are exposed to the elements for a longer time before being picked.

Even with the potential risks of frost killing or damaging a crop, many farmers went ahead and planted their crops during the heat wave. This is because some farmers saw the risk of a freeze outweighed by the potential for a longer growing season. A longer growing season would mean more crop production and higher profit from this summer and fall.  Some farmers have used precautions to protect against frost such as fans or heaters in order to keep their crops warm enough to resist freezing or frosting over. Despite precautions, no one knows how the weather will react in Michigan and farmers will not sleep well until Summer arrives.

Carter Ellwood

Sources:
http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2012/04/weather_forecast_freezing_temp.html
http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/y7223e/y7223e0e.htm

Michigan: put up with the little things; never have to face the big ones(?)

As a Michigan native, there are only two things that I have “always said” about my home state. First: that I believe our state’s nickname should be changed from “The Great Lakes State” to “The Weather State” because, while the great lakes have a profound effect on our shape and secondarily on our climate, it is the crazy weather in this state that so profoundly shapes the experience of living here day to day. Second, a belief I began to form in High School as Katrinas and Ivans and Indonesian Tsunamis and Icelandic volcanoes reared their ugly heads, that is: nothing bad ever happens here. Obviously, that is an exaggeration and a basely incorrect statement… but think about it. We are in the perfect location here in The Mitten to avoid most of the catastrophe that Mother Nature unleashes on this world, and for that matter, this hemisphere; a climatological “goldilocks zone” if you will.

To further confirm my beliefs, I came across this ranking in an independent financial blog that lists the ten larger size cites in the nation that are safest from natural disasters; Grand Rapids, MI (my hometown) was ranked number four after factoring in the instance of violent crimes per 100,000 people. There are many similar lists and rankings all over the internet and none of them list the same top ten, but ALL of them contain a great number of cities from the Midwest and New England.

This got me thinking about the future, especially after viewing An Inconvenient Truth in class several weeks back. I want to avoid the question of whether or not Gore’s claims in the film or overblown or exaggerated or if global warming is as immediate a danger as the film claims it is; to me, it has little relevance. What all scientists seem to agree on in one way or another is this: whether the human race is causing it or not, that the oceans’ water levels will continue steadily to rise as time goes on and arctic ice melts… and beyond the problem this could pose for coastal cities, this rise could also potentially have a large impact on global weather and climate patterns.

Now, as this projection of the new world map without ice caps shows, Michigan is still sitting high and dry, the Great Lakes obviously sitting high enough in elevation to escape the flooding occurring at the oceans’ coasts. Now I allow that the map will likely not look like this for a long time, if ever, but ice is melting and the effects of this will surely be felt in some magnitude as the process continues ongoing. If Michigan is indeed the “The Weather State” then won’t it feel the effects of potentially shifting global weather patterns? I’d have to say “yes, probably” but I don’t know if that makes me wish I was living anywhere else when all this starts hitting the fan in however many years from now. I would assume that weather here will likely become more extreme, as it will likely everywhere in the world. Michigan has the second highest occurrence of lightning related deaths in the nation and the state is over fifty percent forested so it’s natural to assume wildfires will increase in severity and frequency as well as the property damage and death tolls that go along with it. Perhaps tornados will happen with more frequency and winters may be harder, but even given all that, I just can’t see it getting much worse here in Michigan than anywhere else in the nation or the world as these global weather patterns begin to potentially shift and change. If this was the only thing affecting my decision, I don’t think I’d ever leave.

Dylan DeVries