Only Getting Hotter

Eye in the Sky by Noah Sorensen

Eye in the Sky, photo by Noah Sorensen

“The heat is rising and only getting hotter, ready to blow
I think I’ll pour myself a glass of water, let it flow
She’ll show you what she’s made of
Yeah she’s comin’ for ya
She’s gonna try to break ya
Yeah she’s comin’ for ya
No, she don’t mess around”
-Cage The Elephant, Mess Around

You know that when I pull out Cage the Elephant lyrics, I’m probably going to say something that will anger a slice of Michigan in Pictures readers, so be warned! Longtime readers will also know that I am pretty committed to saying what I want to say, so it’s probably good keep that in mind as well.

Speaking of warnings, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) spends a lot of time looking at the Earth and crunching data from an extensive satellite and – in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Anyway, these folks – literally rocket scientists – have reported (based on science and data) that the Earth is warming at an unprecedented rate:

The planet is warming at a pace not experienced within the past 1,000 years, at least, making it “very unlikely” that the world will stay within a crucial temperature limit agreed by nations just last year, according to Nasa’s top climate scientist.

This year has already seen scorching heat around the world, with the average global temperature peaking at 1.38C above levels experienced in the 19th century, perilously close to the 1.5C limit agreed in the landmark Paris climate accord. July was the warmest month since modern record keeping began in 1880, with each month since October 2015 setting a new high mark for heat.

But Nasa said that records of temperature that go back far further, taken via analysis of ice cores and sediments, suggest that the warming of recent decades is out of step with any period over the past millennium.

“In the last 30 years we’ve really moved into exceptional territory,” Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said. “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”

Read on for more. I’d like to go on record as a parent and member of the human race that I’m really alarmed by this, and also the fact that what appears to be a serious emergency is being ignored.

View Noah’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his slideshow.

I would really like to share the video of Mess Around from Cage the Elephant because I really like the band. In the interests of responsibility however, here’s a 30-second video showing the temperature rise of the last 145 years:

Fighting for Michigan’s Environment

"Bridge to Nowhere" Foggy Mackinac Bridge - Mackinaw City , Michigan.

“Bridge to Nowhere” Foggy Mackinac Bridge – Mackinaw City , Michigan, photo by Michigan Nut

“Unless we move without delay to halt the deterioration of our land, our water and our air, our own children may see the last traces of earth’s beauty crushed beneath the weight of man’s waste and ruin.”
~Governor William Milliken to the Michigan legislature, January 1970

While “environmentalism” has become a polarizing term, it seems to me to be a concept that’s at the core of loving & caring for the Great Lakes State. One of my personal heros, Michigan Governor Bill Milliken, recognized this and he and his wife Helen fought strongly throughout their careers to enshrine protection of the natural bounty that they loved into the fabric of Michigan’s laws. It’s no surprise that every year the Michigan Environmental Council recognizes an individual for outstanding leadership, enduring commitment and extraordinary public service in protecting natural resources at the local, state and national levels with the Helen & William Milliken Distinguished Service Award.

The 2013 recipient has been announced, Dave Dempsey. Dempsey is the author of numerous books, a former member of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, environmental policy adviser to former Michigan Gov. James Blanchard, and member of the state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund Board.

“Dave Dempsey is the rare leader who is able to move effortlessly from talking about the arcane technical details of some issue, to explaining in vivid and powerful terms why that issue is so critical to the quality of life for the generations that come after us,” Chris Kolb, MEC president, said in a press release Monday.

“Dave’s contributions to a better Michigan through his public policy advocacy alone deserve our recognition and gratitude. However, when you add in his authoritative chronicling of Michigan’s environmental history through his books, it’s clear he has made a special, positive, and lasting impact on our state.”

There’s no doubt that Dempsey has been a champion of the Great Lakes, and this Sunday (July 14) you have a chance to do some championing of your own as dedicated groups from all over the state host Oil & Water Don’t Mix: A Rally for the Great Lakes to raise awareness about climate change and the dangers posed by an oil pipeline that runs through the Mackinac Straits. Enbridge Energy – the company responsible for the devastating July 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill and over 800 other spills since 1999 – has been pumping oil through the Straits for 60 years. They are seeking to pump even more oil through the aging Mackinac pipeline – possibly including tar sands, the most toxic and hard to clean up if spilled.

The rally this Sunday, July 14 at noon at Bridge View Park in St. Ignace (just across the bridge) and there are numerous busses heading there from Kalamazoo, Lansing, Traverse City and other locations. Click for details or view the event on Facebook!

Check John’s photo out bigger and see more in his Bridges / Covered Bridges slideshow.

Low Point for the Great Lakes

Low water levels, West Arm Grand Traverse Bay

Low water levels, West Arm Grand Traverse Bay, photo by michiganseagrant

On Michigan in Pictures I usually blog beautiful things, but today I’m featuring an ugly thing that we in Michigan should all be concerned about. Traverse City based Circle of Blue has an in-depth feature on the record-low level of Lake Michigan-Huron:

The latest numbers released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on February 5 show that both lakes Michigan and Huron — which are two connected lakes — are experiencing their lowest point since records began in 1918. Water levels were an average of 175.57 meters (576.02 feet) for the month of January, approximately 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) lower than the previous record set in 1964.

“Not only have water levels on Michigan-Huron broken records the past two months, but they have been very near record lows for the last several months before then,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office at the Corps, in a press release. “Lake Michigan-Huron’s water levels have also been below average for the past 14 years, which is the longest period of sustained below-average levels since 1918 for that lake.”

The low water levels, which the Corps attributes to: below-average snowfall during the winter of 2011-2012, last summer’s drought, and above-average evaporation during the summer and fall of 2012, have the potential to hurt the Great Lakes’ shipping industry.

…For the water levels on Lake Michigan-Huron to reach even near-average water levels again, the Corps said it will take many seasons with above average precipitation and below-average evaporation.

Read on at Circle of Blue for much more including the struggles that wildlife are having with the changing climate. You can also view the release from the Army Corps of Engineers and see historic Great Lakes levels back to 1918. From the Army Corps, I learned that at 1 1/2 ft below normal, ships are losing 8-10% of their carrying capacity.

Beyond harm to the multi-billion dollar shipping industry which feeds countless industrial endeavors, the low lake levels are making many of our recreational harbors inaccessible. These feed our multi-billion dollar sport fishing industry and  this has prompted Gov. Snyder to endorse a $21 million emergency dredging plan, $11 million of which would come from Michigan’s general fund. With over a half a million jobs in Michigan alone tied to the health of the Great Lakes, getting a handle on the threats that impact them are likely to be at the center of our policy and spending for a long time.

In a curious bit of synchronicity, you can see just how vital the Great Lakes are to Michigan in Michigan Sea Grant’s reports on Economic Vitality and the Great Lakes. View this photo bigger and see more in their Grand Traverse Bay Low Water slideshow.

Lots more Lake Huron and Lake Michigan on Michigan in Pictures.

Great Lakes water levels: Then & Now Edition

"... is the Lake Michigan water level low?" ...

“… is the Lake Michigan water level low?”, photo by Ken Scott

This photo is from a feature on today’s Leelanau.com blog about the historic water lows on the Great Lakes. It includes a great video so definitely check it out.

Leland is my home town and to see the difference from just 27 years is astonishing!

See it bigger, view more in Ken’s massive Leland/Fishtown slideshow and read an extensive discussion on Facebook.

More Lake Michigan on Michigan in Pictures.