Limitless Michigan Authors

If the Ink Trails series could continue as long as there are famous and forgotten Michigan authors to profile, it could continue for decades. The latest illustration of this point was a batch of names provided by readers at an event in Fenton last week.  The total catch was four names not covered to date in the Ink Trails series. One to highlight now is Edmund Love — a writer of sufficient national note that he merited a New York Times obituary upon his death in 1990.  I’d never heard of him. The Times puts Subways are for Sleeping at the top of his list of works, no doubt because it became a Broadway production. Michiganders will recognize a location in another of his works — The Situation in Flushing.  Flushing was Love’s birthplace in 1912. Time to check out this author’s...

Almost 20 Years Later

This post, dissecting the spiritual disease underlying environmental decline — and the spiritual despair of an advocate — first appeared in 1997.  It’s interesting how little has changed.  But I affirm the hopeful conclusion.  We have no choice but to believe — but only action redeems belief. Sickness And Healing: The Spiritual Crisis Of An Environmentalist “If our present global crisis is a crisis of civilization itself –the horrific fruition of longstanding trends toward increasing population density, urbanization, mechanization, alienation and centralization of control — then, to be helpful in this context, spirituality must resume the work it began over 2000 years ago — that of offering an effective brake to civilization. Now the stakes are higher but the work is essentially the same.” — Richard Heinberg A lobbyist fighting clean air standards proposed by the U.S. EPA recently brushed aside the argument they were needed to protect children suffering from breathing problems and asthma, saying, “Asthmatic kids need not go out and ride their bicycles.” Another argued that EPA’s cost-benefit analysis was rigged in favor of more rules because it treated the value of older person’s life — which is going to end soon anyway –the same as that of a younger person. This winter, the Governor of Michigan skirmished with federal agencies who wanted the state to warn women of child-bearing age to limit their consumption of PCB-contaminated fish from the Great Lakes — to avoid risk to babies and infants and the reproductive health of the women. The Governor refused to join most other Great Lakes states in offering such a warning, saying he would not be...

A View of the Lake

It’s simply too hot to think, so this post is largely a set of images. The scene is the shoreline of Lake Huron about five miles north of downtown Port Huron in Fort Gratiot Township. Huron may be the Great Lake that gets the least respect.  Who thinks of Lake Huron?  But it’s the fifth largest freshwater lake in the world. These photos show a few of its many...

New Book: Tell Your Great Lakes Story

If so many people love the Great Lakes, why are they deteriorating? That’s the primary question I hope to answer in my next book. The gap between private sentiment and public policy is illustrated by the condition of the Lakes.  Although some resources are recovering and others are stable, the general trend is mixed-deteriorating, according to reports from the Canadian and US governments. At the same time, public opinion polling says overwhelming majorities in both the US and Canada believe it is important to protect the Great Lakes. Why is something so loved and cherished withering away? I’m looking for personal stories from people who’ve experienced the Great Lakes for years, perhaps since childhood.  In addition to telling your story, you can offer your thoughts on why the Lakes remain in trouble. Email me to request the interview questions: davedem [at] hotmail.com....

Humility and the Great Lakes

As Great Lakes water levels inched up this spring, perhaps headed toward record highs, a right-wing website crowed that environmentalists had been foiled. The greens’ forecast of plummeting levels under the influence of climate change was proving a wild inaccuracy. But it was the wingers who were foiled. Apparently failing to read the fine print, they didn’t notice that environmental groups have become more nuanced in their predictions as recent modeling has suggested climate change could contribute to a decline in water levels (heat and extended drought) or rising water (frequent intense rainstorms). Or levels could remain roughly the same. That the models pointed in various directions is testimony not only to the complexity of predicting the future generally, but also to the surprises the Great Lakes have in store for anyone who pretends to understand completely how they work. If there’s any sure lesson the Great Lakes teach, it’s this: the more we know, the more we know that we don’t know much. It’s this reality that helps foster the dreaded refrain from scientists: more research is needed. It’s also this reality that should keep government officials humble and cautious in attempting to manage resources related to the Great Lakes. One case in point is the recent decision by the Great Lakes states to permit the city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, to divert an average of approximately 8 million gallons a day from Lake Michigan to serve as its drinking water supply. The city would return an equivalent amount of water to the lake. Regardless of the merits of the decision, flat statements by some officials that the diversion...