Traverse City Record-Eagle

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July 3, 2013

Forum: Climate change is already taking a toll

Summertime in northern Michigan is glorious. Clean water and fresh air make swimming, fishing, boating and hiking the basis of many happy memories. We have an obligation to future generations to ensure that they, too, can experience the wonders of a northern Michigan summer. Unfortunately, climate change is already taking a toll on the place we love.

Right now we are experiencing extremely low Great Lakes water levels. Another impact of climate change is increases in flashy type rains as opposed to those slow steady rains we remember from our childhood. For example, the intense storm that hit Illinois this spring had the highest levels of flooding ever recorded there. Last year, Duluth, Minnesota had a 10-inch rainfall in less than two days. The flooding there collapsed roads and caused damage costing millions to repair. These are just a few of the effects we are experiencing right now that threaten the health of our waters and communities.

President Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution is a good and positive step to address this problem. Power plants release as much carbon pollution as they want. There are limits for arsenic, mercury and lead, now it is time to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and limit carbon pollution too.

However, these needed cuts to carbon pollution will take years to take effect in our atmosphere. That’s why Freshwater Future is working to help communities around the Great Lakes adapt to current impacts of climate change. Through our Climate Program we are training citizens and providing crucial funds to help communities be more resilient to the impacts of climate change in the Great Lakes region. For example, neighborhoods in Detroit are installing rain gardens to collect and treat stormwater, reducing flows to the city’s overburdened wastewater treatment plant and pollution to the Detroit River.

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