Tag Archives: Pollution

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/

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Problematic Environmental Conditions in India

India's Waste Problems

It is no surprise that the horizon of population growth in India, combined with sanitation and waste issues, is setting up the country for long term problems dealing with environmental hazards and natural disasters. According to the website for Indian Embassies Abroad, currently 50% of India’s total population falls into the age category of 0-25 years old. Concluding that this age group is India’s largest, the problems of a rapidly growing population will worsen as the population continues to grow at the current rate. In India today, there are 52 births a minute. In 1947, there were 350 million people living in India. Today, India’s population is an astonishing 1.22 billion. This rapid increase creates strains and problematic needs on the current environment, natural resources, and citizens of India. For comparative reasons, U.S. Census clock shows that the population of the United States is 313 million. India has problems with population sanitation and waste removable unfathomable by the 50 states. A whopping 65% of India’s land is harmed or polluted in some way due to human contamination. The difference in Government regulations and sanitation systems in place is quite different when comparing the United States and India. This fact does not separate the human rights that should be protected for both American and Indian citizens. Everyone should have access to clean food and drinking water free of contamination. Nearly 30% of India’s gross agricultural output is lost every year due to soil degradation, poor land management and counter productive irrigation. This means that only 70% of all the food grown is able to make it to consumption. The food crisis that has developed for the poor will get worse with the increase in waste, agriculturally unusable land will increase with more pollution, and less gross agricultural output will worsen the food crisis in India.

With India facing yearly scares of floods, mudslides, and resource depletion, the effects of disasters can amount to more damage as the environment is changes. India needs to tighten pollution standards, create better methods for trash and waste removal, and prepare itself for natural disasters.

Author: Daniel Finegan

Sources:

http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html

http://www.all-about-india.com/Environmental-issues-in-India.html

Global Warming Affecting the Health of Michigan Residents

Michigan’s climate has been affected negatively by global warming just like the rest of the world. However, it is especially important to monitor Michigan’s climate because the possible effect on our enormous fresh water supply. It can be difficult for people to wrap their heads around the long term effects of global warming because it is such an extensive issue affecting all aspects of our daily life. However, if we look at the effects on our health, it is easier to put the consequences of global warming, in perspective. If human survival is at stake, people are much more likely to be concerned with the issue at hand.

Global warming causes a rise in average temperature of our earth. The combination of human and environmental factors leads to several health threatening changes in our lives. Agriculture, water quality, UV exposure, and life-threatening storms will all be affected due to changes in our earth’s climate. It is so important to study these effects because they will directly affect the safety and livelihood of future generations.

First of all and probably most obvious is the increase in heat-related deaths that are a result of the increase in average temperature and increase in the number of days of extreme heat. The human body cannot withstand extreme heat for long periods of time, especially in times of water shortages and power outages. The number of days of extreme heat is expected to double or triple in cities like Detroit in the next few years. This extreme heat can cause fainting, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death. These symptoms can be prevented but they require careful planning and lots of water.

Water is crucial to human survival but global warming has many negative effects on water quality as well. The increase in sea levels along our coasts could flood many cities, resulting in a drop in water quality and a direct health risk to humans in the nearby areas. Also, when our river flows decrease and the temperature continues to rise, this will greatly increase the pollutants in our rivers and bays, because there will be less water to dilute our supplies. Even large storms that will be a result of global warming will cause more runoff, and flooding of our sewage systems, increasing the infectious disease in our waterways.

Another life-threatening effect of global warming is the intensity of the sun’s rays. As our atmosphere is damaged due to the gases that we release into the air, the sun’s UV rays become more intense. These UV rays are responsible for skin damage that can even lead to cancer. Although we have sunscreen to protect ourselves, as the problem gets worse, it will become more difficult to completely protect ourselves. This damage to our atmosphere will also increase the incidence of ground level ozone. This will decrease air quality and therefore lead to increase incidence of respiratory diseases.

Michigan residents will experience all o f these negative health effects if we do not start to change our lifestyles and protect our earth from the effects of global warming.

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

http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/

Kelly Cummins

Keep Your Trash

In June 2008, tons of trash was found washed up on the shore of Sleeping Bear Dunes. Over the past few years, these piles of garbage have been discovered more and more on the shores of western Michigan destinations including Manistee, Muskegon and Allegan County. Investigators, volunteers and Adopt-A-Beach participants were quick to help in the cleanup process in cleaning what was mostly food wrappers and containers. However, it took them a while to identify where all of the trash was coming from and why it was suddenly appearing in large groups on these western shores. In the fall of 2011, the source of the trash was discovered to be flooding from an overflow of garbage in the storm sewer system in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a strong current that washed the garbage onto these shores.

I think this is an unfair occurrence Michigan must face. When Wisconsin’s and Illinois’s garbage floats over to our beaches we have to take care of other people’s garbage when we already have our own to deal with. There are several impacts that come from this issue. For one, we lose the beauty of clean and natural-looking beaches. Second, Michigan animals may choke or get strangled in the garbage and die. This could even hurt the amount of fish in the Great Lakes. Also, the amount of plastic in the water (which we drink) will likely rise due to the fact that most of the garbage found were plastic wrappers and plastic containers.

One solution is to continue to clean the beaches by picking up the trash that washes up onto the shore. Another would be to strictly enforce littering in Wisconsin and Illinois where this trash is coming from. Shores would have to be monitored more closely and littering tickets could ride in price to make people less likely to litter.

By: Lauren Evasic

Sources:

1. Alliance for the Great Lakes

2. Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes

A Dangerous Combination

Pollution is a significant problem in the Great Lakes water supply.
The following website provides a map of factories and other facilities that have violated pollution standards by discharging hazardous waste into rivers, lakes and other water supplies: http://projects.nytimes.com/toxic-waters/polluters/michigan Also notable, is the chart below the map which shows the number of violations and the amount of fines that each facility has paid. None of these violators are paying fines for their destruction!
In Whiting, Indiana “BP will now be allowed to dump an average of 1,584 pounds of ammonia and 4,925 pounds of sludge into Lake Michigan every day” according to an article from the Chicago Tribune: http://www.wwdmag.com/bp-allowed-dump-more-sludge-lake-michigan. This is an increase in the amount of waste that they are currently dumping into the water source and is allowed because of lax federal guidelines. There were several other exceptions made to allow BP to increase the amount of chemicals they put into the water, such as the creation of a ‘mixing-zone’ which they use to combine chemicals with the clean water to dilute it and make it ‘less dangerous’ as they see it.
Finally, we are aware of radioactive waste being dumped on the shores of Lake Huron from atomic reactors near Toronto. Experts are concerned that this pollution of the water supply will affect Michigan because, several high population towns such as Bay City, Port Huron, Detroit, and Monroe get their water directly from this source or downstream. The article about this found here: http://www.nirs.org/pressreleasefor10232006.pdf. This article describes several other effects of this waste dumping and all can be related to the other two instances of pollution in the great lakes system.
As the great lakes are a very significant source of freshwater in the world, it is our duty to protect and maintain the cleanliness of the water. We must do something to stop these polluters and violators from ruining our freshwater supply. We already have several laws in place to prevent water pollution but clearly the standards need to be more strict and there should be less leniency for large companies such as BP. Lax standards and polluters are a potentially lethal combination when it comes to the great lakes water supply.
Alyssa Kocis

On the Banks of the Red Cedar

Michigan State University students and faculty have the unique opportunity of living and working right alongside a fresh body of water, the Red Cedar River: a benefit that not many other college students living inland can enjoy.

“The Red Cedar River originates in Livingston County and flows north and then west for approximately 40 miles until it enters the Grand River in Lansing” (MSU Water).

One thing about the river that people may not realize is that there are drains all over campus that run directly to the river, which delivers untreated water into the Red Cedar. That means runoff from rain can carry fertilizers from the grass, oil or other car leaks from parking lots, or other things around the drains right to the river.  “Storm water carries high concentrations of the pollutants with it, and this pollution can lead to the destruction of aquatic life, fish and wildlife habitats, and loss in the aesthetic values” (MSU Water).

The drains that go straight to the river without going to a treatment plant first are labeled with a stamp that says, “dump no waste, drains to water” to help make people aware of their behavior around the drain and to avoid excess pollution if possible. So, students should keep this in mind when they are doing things like washing their cars, dumping paint or chemicals, or fertilizing their yards. These activities directly affect our body of water if they are done near these particular drains.

The Red Cedar River is more than just a line in our fight song. It is a place for relaxing and enjoying our campus, a resource for many, and a home to various animals. Check out what the MSU Fisheries and Wildlife club is doing to help clean up our incredible river.

-Jordan Burroughs

Resources:

http://www.msu-water.msu.edu/RedCedarRiver/

http://greatlakesecho.org/2010/05/13/michigan-state-university-students-clean-up-red-cedar-river/

Here Piggy, Piggy: The Political Battle for Feral Swine

On April 1st, a new Michigan law was implemented to help combat the feral swine infestation.  The bill recognizes that feral swine have become an invasive species worthy of political action.  As some may know, wild hogs and feral swine have been devastating to Michigan’s agricultural business.  In fact, it was estimated that 1000s of jobs could be loss due to wild hog consumption of their crops.

On top of the pigs eating crops, they also pose a major threat to ecosystems and to humans.  In terms of the ecosystem, swine immediately become one of the top predators in whatever system they choose to roam.  Taking away vital food from local animals and pushing them out of their natural habitat.  Also, swine carry parasites, and diseases like swine cholera and tuberculosis which obviously can affect various populations.  Not only do those diseases affect animals but they also affect us people.  The spread of tuberculosis and salmonellosis spread quickly among domesticated animals (farm pigs and cattle) and local agriculture.  Which, in turn creates a problem for humans because we love to eat pork and beef.

Alternatively, the passing of the bill has stirred up some political debate of whether or not the law is fair.  The law makes it so people can go out and hunt these feral pigs, which the DNR gives incentive to do so.  Kind of like the Asian Carp, turning in a wild pig is rewarded in a monetary fashion.  Also, the law gives the DNR permission to inspect any farm that they suspect of housing wild hog or feral swine. And, if in fact they are, eliminate the illegal swine on site.  This is partially what has caused the debate, because several farmers claimed the DNR has came in and exterminated their whole lot of pigs.  As a result, several law suits have been filed against the DNR and are still pending on results. But, more than likely, will not be successful.

Do you agree with the hunting of wild hog and feral swine? Leave a comment with your opinion.  Also, here are a few websites that speak more about the subject.

http://www.porknetwork.com/pork-news/

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

http://nationalhogfarmer.com/

Jacob Moses

Grand River not so Grand

The Grand River is Michigan’s longest river and is very diverse from where it begins, to where it ends. It starts in a little pond called “Liberty Mill Pond” where it is only a few inches deep and ends in Lake Michigan.

This river used to be booming with fish population, a main factor in the fur trade, an area for hunting, and a large factor in transportation. However, once theindustrial era began around the late 1800’s the pollution of the Grand River shot up. People were not able to receive a food source from the fish anymore and the river smelled so bad that people debated covering the river with cement to block the smell. The Grand River is one of the largest contributors into Lake Michigan and the pollution of the river will only just pollute the lake even more, which is shown in the picture. One can see the brown, polluted water from the river meeting the blue of Lake Michigan. People began treating the river like a wastebasket and all recreational activities ceased because of the high amount of pol

lution. Run off from farming or livestock manure would run into the river, people would throw trash into it, which created bacteria to grow in the river. This problem occurs because heavy rain will carry the sewage or manure into the river and these hazordous pathogens pollute the water, killing fish and making swimming conditions dangerous in the river and lake.

The problem with polluting of the water is the health risks it has on the people and animals. However, there are many steps that can be taken to stop or reduce pollution. Stop treating the river like a trash can and throw materials away where they should go. Another strategy that has been placed into act is the Clean Water Act, which was passed in 1972 and since then, there have been improvements to the river and pollution. Since the industry pollution has decreased greatly, fish have started returning and people are now able to fish and studies show these fish are now safe enough to eat, which was not the case years ago when the water was so polluted. Volunteers could offer to help clean the river and purifiers could be placed in the river to help clean the water. It could then once again become a source of entertainment for the people.

http://www.mlive.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2010/07/grand_river_series_waterways_h.html

http://www.mlive.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2010/07/where_the_grand_river_begins_l.html

Sara DeJonge

The Air That I Breathe

Many changes are coming about and one in particular is very important; air pollution. Air pollution in Michigan is becoming an increasingly larger hazard as the air we breathe to live is becoming the very thing that is making people sick and in some cases, even causing death. As more pollution, from the increasing number of cars, factories and other sources, is generated and reacts with sunlight and increasing heat, this creates more ozone smog. As temperatures rise from increasing pollution this smog gets worse and worse and the temperature, as of now, doesn’t show signs of decreasing (http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/climate-change-michigan.pdf). Also the increasing CO2 emissions cause plants to release more pollens into the air making allergens worse and also ragweed. Ragweed is actually extremely common in Michigan along with ozone smog. People with allergies, asthma and other respiratory health issues face the most serious threats as the number of “bad air days” increases allergy related problems increase and asthma related problems increase resulting in more hospital visits and even death. Roughly 23 million Americans suffer from asthma. However, even people without allergies and asthma are grossly affected by the poor air quality just by being outside and breathing in the air can cause a “sun burn” on a person’s lungs causing lung damage.

Air quality needs to be improved, if it doesn’t temperatures will continue to rise and air quality will become worse, doing more damage to our lungs. Nearing the end of this century the air quality will be far poorer and temperatures will be higher, and the elderly being a group that is greatly affected by these two factors, many should be concerned as our generation will be the elderly by that time and will be suffering the severe health costs.

So far eleven of the United States have begun steps towards increasing air quality. Michigan is one of these eleven who have begun measures of increased surveillance of air quality changes and increased communications with the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the EPA and other organizations to start to stop any increased damage to the air quality in Michigan and in general. It’s great to know that Michigan is one the states head lining this attempt to reduce poor air quality, but more can be done, and is being done, by increasing the use of fuel efficient vehicles. The United States is one of the lucky few who has a vast array of technologies and these can help to reduce the climate change and slow it if we just used the technology. Using the knowledge and abilities we have many jobs would be created to build more wind turbines and other efficient ways to make electricity and eventually efficient way to make everything without much pollution or any. The technology is there, just the push to use it isn’t, but once we open that door good things will come and humans can breathe a sigh of relief and do so without sun burning their lungs or having a severe asthma attack.

  • Jeremy Sutton

Sources:

http://www.nrdc.org/health/climate/airpollution.asp#methods

http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/global_warming/climate-change-michigan.pdf

http://www.ecy.wa.gov/climatechange/extremeweather_more.htm

Pollution Plaguing The Great Lakes

A major problem that is having devastating effects on the Great Lakes is the level of water pollution that exists; currently there are 362 different contaminants that have been identified. This is a major problem because of the size of the waterways and also because of the difficulty that we have in reversing the pollution. It takes over 100 years for the water in the great lakes to completely cycle to get rid of the contaminants. This makes it crucial that we act quickly to ensure that the water in the lakes continues to remain safe. There are many reasons for the water pollution that we are finding in the Great Lakes. The largest contributor being that people have used the lakes as a dumping site for agricultural, industrial, and domestic wastes since the 1970s. The pollutants in the water lead not only to problems with the water quality and the amount of water that we are able to consume, but it is also having devastating effects on the lives of the wildlife that live in the great lakes environment. The pollution that exists in the lakes has been shown to interfere with the reproduction of birds, and lake trout in lake Michigan just to name a few. The most troubling part of the pollution in the great lakes for me is the fact that humans are almost entirely to blame for these problems; however this can also be seen as a good problem to have because there are steps that can be taken towards reducing the amount of waste that humans contribute.  There are many things that we can do in order to decrease the amount of contamination that is being released into the great lakes, however the government may need to take action in order to solve the issue. There are already several pieces of legislation that have been passed, however the implementation of tighter restrictions on the contamination levels would lead to a change for the better.

Eric Allman

Sources:

http://www.mrfrere.com/tok/water/science.htm

http://www.great-lakes.net/teach/pollution/water/water2.html