Compilation: The less and less-Great Lakes and the global climate EMERGENCY

The precious freshwater resources we travel like freeways and treat like toilets that are in a perilous annual down trend of evaporation RIGHT NOW.


This is a compilation in progress of material / developments related to the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth — the Great Lakes (Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario) — and how their overall decline and dramatic drop in water levels is symptomatic of the clear, present, accelerating threat / planetary EMERGENCY posed by the climate crisis RIGHT NOW to:

Watch the videos in the playlist above for an overview. Further info in the resources below.

Quick facts about the Great Lakes

  • a major transportation route for bulk goods, they contribute billions to the regional economy
  • climate ‘change’ (breakdown, disruption, destabilization), industrial pollution and moves toward privatization and bulk water export (see fact sheet in right column of this link), chemical contamination, over-extraction, abuse, mismanagement, neglect, the increase of harmful algal blooms / bacteria, the proliferation of aquatic invasive species from shipping, weakened fisheries, wetland / habitat destruction and biodiversity loss (home to at least 3,500 species of animals and plants), shoreline corrosion and more have all contributed to their deterioration and recent, widespread economic losses (watch video)

Big picture

Global heating and climate disruption has already forced Arctic sea ice into a new state of ‘death spiral’ meltdown and it is anticipated to disappear in Summer months within a few short years (maybe as soon as 2013), many decades ahead of previous estimates. The air conditioner of the northern hemisphere and a major global weather regulator, it has lost 80% of its volume, almost 50% of its long-term (1979 – 2000) average extent since 1979 (watch video) and rendered the jet stream much slower, wavier, weaker (watch video) / prone to cause more extreme / prolonged weather events (storms, floods, droughts, wildfires).

The Arctic hasn’t been ice-free for somewhere between 1,450 and 4,000 years, and before that, for about 120,000 years.

Of EMERGENCY, ‘life or extinction’-scale concern (yes, really!) is the potential (already increased) escape of massive amounts of the powerful heat-trapping greenhouse gas, methane, buried in the frozen permafrost of northern Canada, Siberia and under water ocean shelves, which could very soon become an unstoppable blow torch accelerator of heat feedback. (See: Compilation: Methane Time Bomb.)

In 2012, scientists were stunned to discover that melt was detected for the first time over 97% of the surface of Greenland, and that its rate of melt was five times what it was in the mid-1990s.

Ice loss in Antarctica is up by 50% over the last decade, and the rate of West Antarctica thaw is at three times the global average, which threatens its destabilization.

Around the world, glaciers (freshwater sources to billions of people) have shrunk / receded and are in imminent jeopardy. (See: Chasing Ice trailer and TED talk: James Balog – Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss.) And many essential lakes / rivers / reservoirs are running dry. (Also see: 28,000 rivers wiped off the map of China.)

2012 was also the warmest year ever recorded in the U.S., which caused the most expansive and sustained drought since the 1950s/1930s over more than 60% of the lower-48 states. Even now, in 2013, there appears to be no end in sight.

2.8 billion people have been affected by either physical (1.2 billion) or economic (1.6 billion) fresh water scarcity. But with recent record droughts in Russia (2003, 2010), the Amazon (2005, 2010), East Africa (2011), Australia (from 1995 through 2012), the current dwindle of water supply in the Middle East and elsewhere, and the reality that, by 2030, China (1.3 billion+) and India (1.2 billion+) won’t have the water their massive populations will need to subsist, we are faced with not less than a planet-wide EMERGENCYRIGHT NOW.

Over the next few years and decades, impacts will compound into a confluence of global crises that include threats to food / agriculture production, the security / stability of nations, resource wars, mass migration, disease proliferation and mass starvation, to name a few. For many, they already have.


The dire condition of the Great Lakes is just one in a multitude of symptoms presented by the biosphere’s much greater, human-caused root illness.

Difficult as it is to communicate, absorb and process, let alone accept, and as shrill / alarmist as it may sound…

Our shared atmosphere is on an accelerating course to reach a state of potentially unsurvivable global climate extremes during the lives of today’s children and teens. (Compilation: +4C by 2060s or sooner catastrophic / incompatible with organized civilization.)

Clear, present impacts ALREADY displace millions / KILL hundreds of thousands each year, and compromise the lives of billions RIGHT NOW.

No less than the fate of all generations of all peoples and most species hangs in the balance TODAY.  And only emergency international action at emergency (world war-time) speed FAST *may be* proportional enough to confront the scale, scope and urgency of what is ALREADY the greatest crime against humanity, most life and most future life EVER. (Compilation: Betrayal of Life.)

Watch the videos in the playlist above. Further info in the resources below.

Maps (2012)

Great Lakes Cumulative Stress Map

(GLEAM: Great Lakes Env. Assessment & Mapping Project – Media Library)

Great Lakes Warming Map

(GLEAM: Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project)


Selected articles, posts, reports

Selected websites, pages, Wikipedia

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