Michigan environment roundup: Glacier that formed Great Lakes is disappearing

A remnant of the Laurentide Ice Sheet that sprawled over North America during the last ice age, the Barnes Ice Cap is a bowling-pin-shaped glacier on Canada’s Baffin Island. It’s all that’s left of the ice sheet that formed the Great Lakes, and it’s shrinking fast due to climate change, the Chicago Tribune reports. (NASA Earth Observatory image created by Jesse Allen and Robert Simmon.)

Bridge Magazine is committed to sharing the best environmental journalism in and around Michigan, an effort called #EnviroReads.

In Bridge’s Michigan Environment Watch, we share a roundup of recent stories on the Great Lakes or other issues. If you see a story we should include next time, use the hashtag #EnviroReads on Twitter or email Environmental Reporter Jim Malewitz at jmalewitz@bridgemi.com.

The massive glacier that formed the Great Lakes is disappearing — and greenhouse gases are to blame for its untimely demise

Chicago Tribune

“From a boardwalk overlooking a deserted Ohio Street Beach in the throes of winter, it’s not hard to imagine the last ice age. A blanket of fresh snow covers the shoreline and pale blue ice glazes over Lake Michigan as far as the eye can see,” Tony Briscoe reports. “But this is nothing. Twenty thousand years ago, Chicago was encased in ice roughly 3,000 feet thick — twice the height of Willis Tower. All that’s left of the colossal ice sheet that sprawled over much of North America and formed the Great Lakes is a kernel of ice in the Canadian Arctic — and it’s dwindling fast.”

The story of how salmon got to the Great Lakes, told by the man who made it happen

Lansing State Journal

“Close to 10 million chinook and coho salmon swim in Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Superior. There were none when Howard Tanner started as the chief of the Michigan Department of Conservation's Fish Division in 1964,” RJ Wolcott reports. “His boss, Ralph MacMullan, spent much of their first meeting lambasting the fish department for its previous lack of action and dysfunction. Heaps of dead fish were washing up on beaches, the lakes were overly commercially fished and there was little recreational fishing to speak of. He gave Tanner a mandate: ‘Do something.’ ‘And if you can,’ he added, ‘make it spectacular.’”

Detroit is Electric Motor City in a frenzied battle for auto engineering talent

Detroit Free Press

“After years when Detroit was Ground Zero for skepticism about electric vehicles, the traditional auto industry’s hometown has become a hub of EV action,” Mark Phelan reports. “The trend is attracting companies, cash and jobs — potentially including jobs for engineers and executives displaced by restructuring at General Motors and Ford. At the same time, established automakers and suppliers are boosting their work on EVs at their local engineering centers, making southeast Michigan one of the world’s centers of EV development.”

Isle Royale gets historic designation

Great Lakes Echo

“Minong – or Isle Royale as it’s best known – is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The newly designated Minong Traditional Cultural Property covers Isle Royale and its entire archipelago of 450-plus northern Lake Superior islands and surrounding waters. It reflects many legacies, especially the cultural history of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, or Ojibwe,” Eric Freedman reports. “The listing “recognizes and celebrates the lasting relationship” between Native Americans and Isle Royale and other nearby islands, said Seth DePasqual, the cultural resource manager at Isle Royale National Park.”

For Health and Habitat: Rescuing the Great Lakes

Undark Magazine

“The Great Lakes Areas of Concern program has helped clean up rivers, restore wetlands, and boost economies — but there’s still a long way to go,” Peter Essick reports in this photo essay about the history and future of the program.

Utility-linked group seeks to dismantle net metering in Michigan

Midwest Energy News

“Nonprofit advocacy groups linked to DTE Energy are waging a public campaign to significantly reduce the amount customers are paid for their solar power, in line with the utility’s request before Michigan regulators,” Andy Balaskovitz reports. “While these groups — classified as 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations — have been prominent in statewide elections and lobbying lawmakers on behalf of utility interests, the latest involves policy decisions at the Michigan Public Service Commission.”

Scuba diver spends hours underneath ice-covered Lake Michigan exploring shipwrecks

Detroit Free Press

“Beneath the icy surface of frozen Michigan waters there is a whole new blue world that's surreal to explore — if you can manage the momentary stinging sensation of frigid temperatures long enough for your face and head to go numb,” Aleanna Siacon reports. “Chris Roxburgh, who found a quagga mussel-covered 1979 Pinto at the bottom of Old Mission Bay last year, is now spending the winter ice diving and sharing videos of his chilly excursions on YouTube. Most recently, Roxburgh, 39, of Traverse City, Michigan, shared footage from his Feb. 23 trip beneath the ice on Lake Michigan.”

Cornered by invasives, tribal fishermen chase whitefish to ‘crowded’ Lake Superior

Michigan Radio

“A decline in lake whitefish is pushing some tribal commercial fishermen out of Lakes Michigan and Huron. They’re spending more time in Lake Superior, the only place they say they can still make a living. This has fishermen and scientists worried about whether whitefish populations there can withstand the extra pressure,” Kaye LaFond reports.

Pipe replacement firms in Flint focused on making money, meeting transcripts show

Flint Journal

“Contractors were more interested in the bottom line than finding lead pipes in Flint following the water crisis,” meeting minutes obtained by Zahra Ahmad suggest. “Essentially the contractors only want to focus on properties where they will make the most money and are most convenient for them to work,” Darby Neidig, a former program manager for AECOM, said at a meeting between his company and the city on Oct. 4, according to city documents.” [Revisist Bridge Magazine’s coverage of Flint’s pipeline replacement efforts.]

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Le Roy G. Barnett
Mon, 03/18/2019 - 9:28am

The story on the Barnes Ice Cap quotes scientists as saying that "the warmth of the past century exceeds any in the past 115,000 years...." Google "Climatic Optimum" and see if you agree with that statement. The "Optimum" is one of the reasons why there are cacti in Michigan.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 03/19/2019 - 7:30am

Well of course the climate is getting warmer!

When you fudge the data to fit your models that haven't worked (and delete that data you don't want made public), obviously you'll get whatever answer you want.