Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An Environmental Victory

When I wrote The Dynamic Great Lakes, I was inspired by an environmental victory.

You can fight city hall and win. It takes time and patience, but sometimes the results are spectacular.

Years ago we lived across the street from the city park in Grand Haven, Michigan where the elm trees were sprayed with DDT to fight Dutch elm disease. Before the spraying started we were told we could move our car--the sticky spray clung to everything. We had two preschool children at this time and no mention was made of protecting them. When they went out to play, they were exposed to it for a long time after each spraying.

Long after the spraying we would see robins trembling in their death throes. DDT is a long lasting pesticide that magnifies through food chains and the robins fed upon earthworms and died before our eyes. The fish in nearby Lake Michigan were affected even more since food chains in water are long. DDT builds up in plankton, small fish and larger fish. The bald eagle that feeds upon fish is at the end of a long food chain. Subsequent to the spraying eagles began to disappear due to the effects of DDT. Their young did not hatch.
I was reading Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring at this time and I showed it to my husband. His reaction was visceral. He had to do something about it. He marched down to city hall and asked that the DDT program be stopped in our city park. When it was not stopped, he brought experts to explain. City Hall countered by bringing agriculture department experts. This went on for three years before he convinced city hall to stop the DDT program. Then people from a neighboring city came and asked how he had managed to get DDT stopped. Together they formed the Michigan Pesticides Council. We met at Michigan State University. with Dr. Ted Black, Dr. George Wallace, Joan Wolfe and others. We marshaled citizen support. Other groups joined in and in 1969, DDT was banned in Michigan.

It took many years for DDT to purge from Lake Michigan, but in recent years we have seen bald eagles along the beaches and the Grand River that flows through Grand Haven, Michigan. Even the peregrine falcons and ospreys that were also once decimated by DDT have returned.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Offshore Oil Drilling Disaster Update

Here is a link to an ABC news story on June 11, 2010:

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – Oil is leaking from the ruptured well of a large rig that exploded, burnt and sank in the Gulf of Mexico...

In light of the oil disaster in the Gulf, here is an excerpt from my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes

The Great Lakes are large, but fragile.

 Presently, offshore drilling for oil and gas is not permitted in the Great

Lakes. The eight governors of the states bordering the Great Lakes

ban oil drilling in the Great Lakes because they are so vulnerable to

oil contamination.

Canada has allowed 55 wells in Lake Erie.

Yet some oil exploration companies have drilled under Lake

Michigan from on shore sites by means of directional drilling and

want to explore for more oil under the Great Lakes. So far twelve

wells have been drilled from offshore using directional drilling to go

under the rock underlying the Lake Michigan basin. The first was in

1979 and the most recent, in 1997. There has been so much citizen

opposition that this practice has been temporarily halted.

Many people believe this is circumventing the intent of the

agreements among the state governors. Directional drilling for oil

has the potential for destroying the world’s greatest source of fresh

surface water. Oil rigs on shore with the capability to drill under the

lakes have an uncertain safety record.

Gambling with Lake Michigan, a lake with an outflow that takes

nearly 100 years, could do great harm.

New York State has banned both directional drilling and offshore

drilling for gas and oil in Lake Ontario.

Accidental oil spills in the Great Lakes have the potential for far

more serious damage than an oil spill at sea because the water in the

Great Lakes takes a long time to circulate through the system. An oil

spill would affect the whole ecosystem from the microscopic

plankton to the eagle with a seven-foot wingspan. It would affect the

people who depend on Great Lakes water for domestic, agricultural

and manufacturing purposes.

*The Dynamic Great Lakes was published in 2001.  Now the number of Canadian offshore wells has increased along with the possibility of oil spills.

*From the website Environment Ohio:

•Fifty-one natural gas spills directly associated with gas drilling in Canada's portion of Lake Erie were documented between 1997 and 2001—an average of almost a spill a month.

•The Canadian side of Lake Erie confronted 83 petroleum spills from all sectors between 1990 and 1995 (the last year for which data was made available for this report).

•Only 45 percent of the spill's contaminants were cleaned up, on average.

•Direct discharges of drilling wastes into Lake Erie have subjected aquatic organisms to immediate and long-term health effects risks, ranging from localized fish kills to aquatic organism developmental impairment.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rip tides in the Great Lakes

This is what a rip current looks like in the Great Lakes.  If you are going to swim in the Great Lakes know that something rolling in like this will be very difficult to get out of.  If you do get caught, swim parallel to the shore.  You can't fight against this strong current.

The photo was created by NOAA.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Dynamic Great Lakes and Earth Day

The Dynamic Great Lakes shows what people have been able to do by thinking globally and acting locally.  Since before the first Earth Day, people have brought about environmental victories in and around the Great Lakes.  There is still much to be done.  Read the book and think of ways to participate.

Order the book here: DGL

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Water Levels in the Great Lakes: NOAA Information

The information below is from the NOAA educational website.  The photo is on the cover of my book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.  The scene is an alvar on the Bruce Peninsula in Canada on Lake Huron.

"Water levels in the Great Lakes change because of meteorological effects, not tides.

Water levels in the Great Lakes have long-term, annual, and short-term variations. Long-term variations depend on precipitation and water storage over many years. Annual variations occur with the changing seasons. There is an annual high in the late spring and low in the winter. These changes occur at a rate that can be measured in feet per month.

True tides, changes in water level caused by the gravitational forces of the sun and moon, do occur in a semi-diurnal (twice daily) pattern on the Great Lakes. Studies indicate that the Great Lakes spring tide, the largest tides caused by the combined forces of the sun and moon, is less than five centimeters (two inches) in height. These minor variations are masked by the greater fluctuations in lake levels produced by wind and barometric pressure changes.

Consequently, the Great Lakes are considered to be essentially non-tidal.

For more information:

Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services

Great Lakes Water Level Data

Great Lakes Online

Tide Predictions and Data Frequently Asked Questions

Tides Tutorial, NOS Education

What are Tides? - Diving Deeper audio podcast "

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Dynamic Great Lakes and Silent Spring

The Dynamic Great Lakes was inspired by Rachel Carson's book, Silent Spring.  Thankfully, people became aware of what devastation economic poisons were creating: loss of the American bald eagle, ospreys and peregrine falcons.  Activists (I was one) brought about the banning of DDT.  Now the eagles have returned to the shores of the Great Lakes as well as peregrine falcons and ospreys.

This was an environmental victory.  Here is the place to order the Dynamic Great Lakes.

Below is a link to where the book may be ordered.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fishing in Lake Michigan

Fishing in Lake Michigan for anything that swims by.  Steelhead, menominee, perch, salmon.  If you're lucky you may catch something.  Sheephead, goby.  If you catch a goby, don't throw it back.  These prolific little fish do not belong in the Great Lakes ecosystem.  They arrived by mistake and threaten to overtake niches that should belong to other fish.  People who catch gobys dispose of them.

You never know whether anything will bite.  That's fishing.

Read more about Great Lakes fishing in The Dynamic Great Lakes.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Poetry @ Schulers Bookstore Alpine Ave. Grand Rapids, MI

It's the perfect time of year for poetry.  The great migrations of fish and birds have returned to Michigan and poetry is in the air--and water.

Please join me as I present readings and talk informally about writing and my books of poetry:
The Wilderness Within and Sophia's Lost and Found: Poems of Above and Below.

I may even talk about my non-fiction book, The Dynamic Great Lakes.

It all happens on April 8 at 7 p.m. as announced on the poster Schulers created for me.