Great Lakes near ecological breakdown: scientists
12/08/2005 07:02:00 PM | Author: baloghblog

From Reuters, via Raw Story:

Threats to the Great Lakes are converging, scientists who worked on the report said.

"There's widespread agreement that the Great Lakes are under tremendous stress," said Alfred Beeton of the University of Michigan. "Toxic substances ... overfishing, invasive species, changes in hydrology affecting rivers -- now we can add the effects of global climate change.

"These have been dealt with individually. What we need to do is look at the ecosystem -- the combination of stresses," Beeton said. "Historical sources of stress have combined with new ones and we have arrived at a tipping point. What we mean is that ecosystem changes will occur rapidly and unexpectedly."

The report emphasized the need for large-scale ecosystem restoration and not piecemeal efforts, coauthor Don Scavia said. Particularly important was preserving or restoring shoreline "buffer zones," such as wetlands and lake tributaries to help the lakes heal themselves.

"These are the key areas for filtering the contaminants that enter the lakes. It's also where most of the wildlife habitat is," Scavia said.

Shoreline pollution that fouls Great Lakes beaches is extending into the middle of some of the five Great Lakes, sudden drops in oxygen levels in the water threaten native species, and native fish have been crowded out by invasive species that have changed the character of the lakes, the scientists added.

I work near Lake Ontario daily. It is a beautiful lake, one that deserves to be protected for a thousand generations. Our leaders need to take steps to preserve its beauty and provide funding to protect the lake.

The body's preliminary report in July recommended $20 billion in federal, state and private funding over 15 years to upgrade antiquated municipal sewer systems, restore 500,000 acres of wetlands, clean polluted harbors and bays, and pay for other efforts.

But a federal oversight group subsequently suggested to the White House that the budget was too tight to allow additional funding. Federal spending on Great Lakes cleanup over the past decade was $800 million, according to the Government Accountability Office.

(emphasis mine) Hmmmmm. Why is it that the budget is so tight? OH yeah, that's right.

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