5 things to prepare for climate change

By KAREN HOPPER USHER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Climate change can feel daunting. What’s an ordinary person supposed to do about chemicals in the air making the planet radically hotter?

While it’s true that there are things you can do to leave a smaller footprint on the planet–walk more, waste less — some scientists think we could be close to the point of no return.

If climate change is inevitable, though, that doesn’t mean the consequences can’t be managed. In fact, a number of state officials and academics are planning ahead to help people cope with the effects of climate change.

Here are five things the state of Michigan does to make climate change easier to bear. This list is not exhaustive. Continue reading

Climate change: a tourist trap

By JACK NISSEN

Capital News Service

LANSING — In 2015, Crystal Mountain Lodge in Thompsonville was saved by an unlikely rescuer: summer.

For the first time, strong summer business bailed out the Northern Michigan ski resort due to the previous mediocre-at-best winter.

“From a traffic standpoint, we are now a 50/50 split,” said Brian Lawson, a public relations representative at the ski lodge located in Benzie County southwest of Traverse City “We have as many people here in the summer, if not more than we do in the winter.”

That’s a recent development for the resort and representative of the volatility of an industry facing the impacts of climate change. There’s more.

The relationship between weather and visits to the North Shore region in Minnesota was recently analyzed to see how it impacts how people decide to spend their time. Continue reading

Climate change tinkers with animal relationships, survival

By JACK NISSEN

Capital News Service

LANSING — How climate change manipulates relationships among organisms and ecosystems remains largely a mystery.

The only predictable is that species that do well in warmer conditions might have an advantage over species that do well in colder conditions, said Hank Vanderploeg, a researcher with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

Scientists are beginning to explore what kinds of changes species will be experiencing as the colder months begin to grapple with warmer temperatures. But they don’t yet know how all the rules of the game fit together.

It is an ecological experiment taking place, said Jeffrey Andresen, Michigan’s state climatologist and a geography professor at Michigan State University. Keeping up with what is happening is one thing, but making predictions is difficult. Continue reading

Uncertainty floods the future of Great Lakes’ water quality, quantity

By JACK NISSEN

Capital News Service

LANSING — For climate change experts, it’s a world of “ifs” when trying to predict what will happen to the waters of the Great Lakes — including a surge of algae blooms.

And while there are some educated guesses out there, not much can be said for certain.

“One thing that we do know about projections for the future is all of them, and there are no exceptions, all of them call for warmer mean temperatures,” said Jeffrey Andresen, Michigan’s state climatologist and a geography professor at Michigan State University.

Now there’s a lot to take away from warmer mean temperatures projections, but again, few things are certain. Continue reading

Will the whole country descend on Michigan?

By KAREN HOPPER USHER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Some Michiganders smirked when a Popular Science video suggested the state would be a good place to live in 2100 to escape the consequences of climate change.

As if it isn’t already!

But the magazine’s broader point was climate change. Between oceans flooding coasts, wildfires torching the West, mosquitoes spreading disease and nasty storms leveling cities, the continental U.S. will be in rough shape by 2100. But Michigan and northern Wisconsin and Minnesota are going to be relatively unburdened by climate change.

Or so the magazine says.

A little warmer, sure, but not on fire or underwater, unlike those other places. Continue reading

‘Saving Arcadia’ tells conservation success story

By IAN WENDROW

Capital News Service

LANSING — For Michiganders, going “Up North” is a common answer to questions about upcoming vacation plans – and for good reason.

That region holds Michigan’s dunes—landforms integral to the state’s history and tourism. They also hold stories of grassroots advocates and volunteers who successfully preserve these pristine landscapes.

Heather Shumaker, the author of “Saving Arcadia: A Story of Conservation and Community in the Great Lakes” (Wayne State University Press, $22.99), explores the near 40-year battle between Arcadia Dune conservationists and CMS Energy, the holding company of Consumers Energy, a natural gas and electric public utility.

Located along Lake Michigan’s coastline and almost directly across from Wisconsin’s Green Bay, the Arcadia Dunes’ conservation story begins in 1969. Elaine Putney, an orchard farmer, received a knock on her door from a sharply dressed man. The man, Gerald Derks, was offering to buy land from Benzie County residents on behalf of Viking Land Co., which — as it would later turn out — represented Consumers Power Co. Continue reading

Ships carry not just cargo, but viruses, into Great Lakes

By LIAM TIERNAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Ballast water entering the Great Lakes from ships may contain viruses dangerous to wildlife and humans, according to a recent study published by the American Chemical Society.

The water used to stabilize vessels may be transporting viruses from ocean water or foreign lakes to the Great Lakes, according to Yiseul Kim, a postdoctoral microbiology researcher at Michigan State University.

Kim’s research involved sampling and detecting virus-like particles using a method that differs from others previously used to study ballast water. The method, called metagenomics, studies chains of viral genetic material sampled directly from the ballast tanks. The researchers then match them to known viral chains. Continue reading

Trump’s budget cuts could devastate Great Lakes restoration

By LAINA STEBBINS
Capital News Service

LANSING — Eliminating the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative could lead to devastating natural and economic effects on coastal Michigan communities, defenders of the program said.

President Donald Trump has proposed killing the initiative, along with the Michigan Sea Grant and nearly a third of the funding for the Environmental Protection Agency.

The possible elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has compelled Michigan lawmakers, environmentalists, scientists and business owners to make a case for the program.

“It has benefited Muskegon greatly, hugely. We’ve received millions in dollars in federal funding to clean up White Lake and Muskegon Lake,” said Bob Lukens, Muskegon County community development director. Continue reading

Great Lakes greatly stressed–Commentary

Research director Anthony Taabu-Munyaho of the Uganda National Fisheries Resources Research Institute. image: Eric Freedman

Research director Anthony Taabu-Munyaho of the Uganda National Fisheries Resources Research Institute. image: Eric Freedman

 

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — The future of the Great Lakes is imperiled, right?

Invasive species endangering native plants, animals and habitat?  Check.

Ag and industrial runoff of toxic chemicals causing pollution and disease?  Check.

Illegal fishing?  Check.

Micro-plastics showing up in the water?  Check.

Damage to fish spawning areas?  Check. Continue reading

Scientists worry about lake herring crash, say new restrictions may help

The lake herring, also called cisco, is similar to herring found in northern Europe used to make a popular caviar. Image: Peter Payette

The lake herring, also called cisco, is similar to herring found in northern Europe used to make a popular caviar. Image: Peter Payette

By SAM CORDEN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Scientists have been worried about the lake herring population in Lake Superior recently. In fact, last year they warned it could be headed towards a collapse.

Lake Superior is the only Great Lake that still has a significant population of herring – or cisco as they’re commonly called.

This fall, new rules protecting herring took effect in Wisconsin and Minnesota and things appear more stable. But there may still be a big problem lying beneath the surface. Continue reading