Skip navigation

The Great Lakes disappearing act

From Monday's Globe and Mail

As all five shrink at an alarming pace, some people have begun to fear global warming is the culprit ...Read the full article

This conversation is closed

  1. John McCaffery from Warragul, Australia writes: Ocean levels are supposedly rising and now we learn that lakes are dropping - we suspect both are caused by global warming. Also, if the oceans are getting warmer and expanding, why are we not getting record rainfalls to fill the lakes? Should there not be more water evaporating into the atmosphere? Or is this extra moisture in the atmosphere dropping mostly back into the ocean?
  2. Clive Gingell from Ottawa, Canada writes: 'Global Warming,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ' means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
  3. Jimmy K from Toronto, Canada writes: Is global warming the cause for EVERYTHING? During Katrina, people said 'Climate Change caused this!'. During El Nino, people say climate change. During heat waves, people say climate change. During cold snaps, people say climate change. When it's rainy, when it's dry, when it's cold, when it's warm, when it's foggy, when it's not, it's always climate change climate change climate change. I don't doubt climate change is occurring, but I think those that blame every single anomaly or event on climate change are completely full of it.
  4. John McCaffery from Warragul, Australia writes: When has weather not been changing?
  5. JEAN BEAUDRY from Wahnapitae, Canada writes: The planet Mars is warming up also... too many automobiles, I guess!!!
  6. CD W from orillia, Canada writes: Great story, but it now puts to the test the global warming theory. If the lakes are getting warmer, according to the rising sea level theory held by some folks, the water as it gets warmer is that it has to expand and therefore increase its' volume and then cause shorelines to fall below the water line. This is not the case in the great lakes. The dredging at sarnia is a problem, but another factor is the 2.5 billion gallons a day diverted from michigan at chicago. Their treated waste water goes out of the great lakes basin. So the story is correct about the superior snow pack being less, it is right about the increased outflow, sadly did not look at the chicago diversion. And if you are going to claim the calumny of global warming, then you better include all of the unproven theories that state that new york city will be under water but the same idea does not hold for the great lakes. Stay consistent.
  7. scott thomas from Canada writes: And of course there is the river at the south end of lake Michigan that has had its direction reversed by the US corps of engineers and now flows out of the lake....
  8. Robert West from Canada writes: The St. Lawrence River drains more water off the Great Lakes than global warming. Maybe it is time to reverse the St. Lawrence Seaway. Fill in the dredging. Build a few dams.
  9. Alistair McLaughlin from Ottawa, Canada writes: Given that if anything we've seen even MORE rain over the past decade or so, it's hardly clear that this is a weather related phenomena. I would be interested in seeing a study that carefully scrutinizes all the man-made changes to the various inflows and outlets of the Great Lakes. Russia has shrunk an entire inland sea to the point of near disappearance simply by damming it's source rivers into oblivion.
  10. Donald Duck from Ottawa, Canada writes: Has any one read Michael Crichton's 'State of Fear' lately? The sky isn't falling: too many people make too much money off of a panic.....and what better panic then the sky is falling! I'm sure there is climate 'change' but I'm also sure humans are really arrogant to believe that we are the sole cause of it.
  11. Clive Gingell from Ottawa, Canada writes: Further to Alistair's comment, it should also be noted that the combined population of Canada/US is over 2.6 times what it was in 1926 when the 'previous record' was determined.
  12. A day in the life of one Canadian from Canada writes: Donald Duck from Ottawa - Michael Chrichton's 'State of Fear'
    Now where have I heard that name before .... right, right, he's an author of ..... FICTION!
  13. M Horon from Calgry, Canada writes: I saw an interesting CBC documentary on this a while ago. It blamed the problem on dredging, which this article mentions, and shoreline mining, which this article does not. It also stated that there is a consensus among scientists that this has nothing to do with global warming. Global warming and the resulting glacial melt water actually has more water flowing into the great lakes than ever before. Dredging and shoreling mining are draining the water away in spite of this. North American temperatures were much higher in the 1930's than they are now, at least according to NASA. The great lakes were not draining away then.
  14. Donald Duck from Ottawa, Canada writes: Day in the Life: read it before you pontificate. He's done a huge amount of research that's backed up by fact. Just like the climate change criers are backing up their claims by facts.....the question becomes who do you believe.
  15. Ravi Karumanchiri from Toronto, Canada writes: While it is now certain that greenhouse gases are trapping more solar heat in the atmosphere, the outcome is not necessarily “global warming”. As with any complex system, when you add more energy to it, the trend of its general behaviour is typically not in one direction alone, but rather towards increased instability instead. What you typically get is a phenomenon known as “accelerating oscillation”, whereby wider swings to farther extremes become the new norm. As for climate change, it is not certain that droughts and desertification around equatorial and temperate regions will preclude a new ice age closer to the poles. In fact, this is a very strong possibility. We must wake up to the fact that we exist only by the grace of a very delicate balance. A few more degrees warming of the oceans, and they’ll start to dump CO2 rather than absorb it. Then the ocean-floor hydrates will gasify, and the permafrost will rot into methane, and the sky will turn from blue to green, and we’ll all be on our way to becoming oil deposits ourselves, over a few million years time. Understand that this wouldn’t be the first time this kind of thing has happened suddenly on this planet. We don’t need models to predict this, only a good look at history and established science. The “dire predictions” made in all these consensus-based reports, are actually down-playing the dangers we face, because of political interference in service of vested interests. The fact is, climate change is an existential threat to us all.
  16. gordon mcpherson from Ottawa, Canada writes: ...at first glance you would think the Great Lakes' waters have evaporated and got deposited onto Central Africa where there are floods from the west coast to the east coast... However, considering the population increase around the Great Lakes over the past 100 years, that's alot of toilets, washing machines, dish washers to run not counting industrial uses i.e. from golf courses to irrigation to industrial cooling for the same water etc...
  17. A day in the life of one Canadian from Canada writes: Donald Duck. Fair enough, I probably should read it. There are so many materials out there, and you're absolutely right, 'the question becomes who do you believe'. The next question is how can you tell the truth from the rest?
  18. dallas mcquarrie from Regina, Canada writes: Those who wish their children and grandchildren to drink from urinals and eat from toilet bowls will continue to deny climate change and the threat it poses. Ignorance truly is bliss...
  19. Vote NDP in the next federal/provincial election from Toronto, Canada writes: Global warming is the culprit but we need to put blame on users especially households and industry because they're consumption is rising ever before. They should conserve water or they'll have their water supplies reduce. That way it will force conservation by using less supply.

    Also we need to reduce greenhouse gases now regardless of the excuses.
  20. Joe Calgarian from Calgary, Canada writes: Oh dear!

    What will industry do when the toile bowls of North America are gone?

    Maybe they can turn them into giant landfills?
  21. Iain's Opinion from Canada writes: But if the dredging was responsible for Huron and Michigan losing extra water wouldn't it be in Erie? It's down too. Maybe the Morlocks are stealing it.
  22. Karl Lauten from Nipawin, Canada writes: It matters not that most hydrological extremes today are due to past short-sightedness of single-goal oriented engineering that is exacerbated by growing populations and urbaniztion.........the impacts now are blamed upon 'climate change'. The article uses comparisons of current short term observations to supposed long term 'average' values for flows/water levels and grossly eaggerates the implications for the differences. The only thing alarming about this is the trend towards so many reporters becoming fiction writers.
  23. Mark Taylor from Toronto, Canada writes: Martin Mittelstaedt, Ms Muter and Mr Moulton have all missed the main problem. There are too many people surrounding The Great Lakes. We are simply consuming too much water. Years ago, there were thousands of people consuming water; then hundreds of thousands, them millions, then tens of millions. Consumption went from drinking, to include irrigation, industrial use, cleaning millions of clothes and all the other things we use water for. Very simply, there are too many people. Not only do we have to limit our birth rate, but stem people migration to the GL areas. Most people need financial incentives to change behaviour, so increasing water prices 10 fold might prevent wasteful behaviour like using a high powered garden hose to wash dirt off a driveway, rather than using a basic push broom. While I support Green thinking, I believe a crisis is the only way to modify our current lemming like behaviour of excess consumption and global high population rates.
  24. bryan fraser from Canada writes: iam sure that GW is a contributing factor, however in the article no where is it stated the consumption factor as more & more familys are relocating to urban areas that border the great lakes. Toronto is a prime example of that, Where i live very near to Geo.Bay it has seen a stubstantial increase in people living very near the waters edge, they have to draw there water from somewhere this would also include many golf courses that have sprung up that require the luxurious greens & fairways that are required.
  25. Rodger Harding from Canada writes: I agree with John McCaffery. Recorded climatic change is only a few hundred years old. Nature/the earth constantly evolves ....At best we can manage what happens...Anticipating and factoring in potential impact should be a priority. We in the West tend to think though that we can alter the course of nature...Perhaps because our privilege has lulled us into believing the illusion of achievable certainty. While I am considered a tree-hugger by those who know me, I strongly believe that environmental concerns and climate change are separate issues and should not be confused if we are to deal with what is coming.....
  26. Laurence Smith from St. Louis, United States writes: The findings from simulation models of climate change certainly magnify concern about the Great Lakes’ water levels and raise horrifying questions about the aggregate effects of diversions and uses of water throughout the interior of the U.S. and Canada. Is Environment Canada immobilized as it tries to grasp the vast complexities of the problem? Why do we defer low-cost mitigation measures that can be implemented immediately &8211; specifically attenuating or regulating outflow through the St. Clair River? It is hard to imagine that any proposed course of action will not include this as one strategy.
  27. scamp the from Canada writes:
    has nothing to do with my 1/2 showers or that I have flush the toilet 3 times just to make sure all the icky stuff goes away.

    At least now I know global warming is to blame
  28. bryan fraser from Canada writes: Mark taylor i agree, people have no problem with waste watering their driveways & lawns just to have the prettiest on the block, But add a $dollar value. The community i live in enacted water usage meters a fews years back. When you consider most people have a shower in the morning, have a dishwasher, have a washing machine when that meter is ticking away & then you water the lawn & wash the driveway. Now since the meters have been installed we do not see the lawns & driveways being watered as much.
  29. Walt Robbins from Kingston, Canada writes: If the theorists are correct, we won't need to worry too much about the great lakes water levels or trying to reverse the St. Lawrence River. When the ice melts, the oceans will rise and with a mighty tide will swamp the land and fill the rivers and their tributaries. And the great lakes will become an enormous salten sea. In which case we should be building desalinization plants right now! Or, better yet, Arks?
  30. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: It's fairly easy to do some science, based solely upon the information given in the article. Isolate Lake Superior from the rest of the lakes. Is it rising or falling? Is the outflow higher or lower? Is there more or less rain? Is there more or less runoff from winter snow? Are there more, fewer or the same numbers of people living in its watershed than there were in 1929?

    The answers are all there. While there are certainly many more people living there than there were, the Lake Superior basin has had the smallest rate of increase in population. It has seen the largest VOLUME drop, its outflow has DECREASED, its snow-pack supply DECREASED, its rain supply DECREASED. Its surface temperature is increasing, causing more evaporation, which quickly offsets any rise from thermal expansion. The surface-area/volume ratio is much higher than that of the ocean, further mitigating the thermal expansion theory.

    You need look no further to see that there is an issue here that is unrelated to consumption, diversion or thermal expansion. ACn anybody offer any explanations?
  31. Ted Harrison from Canada writes: To answer the question posed at the beginning of this thread:

    Global warming makes oceans rise because of the ice pack in the Arctic and Antarctic, both of which are directly connected to the world's oceans. The Great Lakes are not connected to any glaciers whatsoever, so all a warming climate would do would be to increase evaporation. Increase human consumption also probably has something to do with the dropping levels. Either way, it's not good, and almost certainly directly related to our environmental management.
  32. Vic Hotte from Kettleby, Canada writes: Too much human population growth and growing demand for everything, which continues to drive all associated industrial/commercial expansionist activities in the economic domain, further fueling reckless wasteful political agendas. Result, more of the same, more and more of the same, and so on. No real attempt at control in the human realm, but expect plenty of strife within that same realm as water levels drops. We are extracting and wasting all finite natural resources at an accelerating rate. The crisis is obvious.
    Ravi Karumanchiri says it best with his astute observation, 'As with any complex system, when you add more energy to it, the trend of its general behaviour is typically not in one direction alone, but rather towards increased instability instead.' Ravi's comments are worth re-reading.
  33. J. Collins from United Kingdom writes: Factc are facts just like a proof is a proof.
  34. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Yay Ted Harrison! I get a little annoyed at all the GW stuff. It's true, we can't absolutely predict this, that or the other thing. What we DO know, however, is that our mismanagement of the environment is hurting us now, not at some vague point in the future.

    To wit:

    Friday afternoon, my girlfriend and I are out for a bike ride along Lake Ontario. Her lungs are burning from the air pollution. Though I'm not as sensitive, I notice a difference if we ride north on bad air days. The lungs feel better north of HWY 7. And we take this as normal, as though a 'moderate' (perhaps on the 'poor' side of moderate) air quality is acceptable. Since when did we decide that shoddy mediocrity is OK? I thought we were supposed to aspire to excellence? Are we doomed to a fate of dying in our own acceptance of the almost-good-enough?
  35. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: To Vic Hotte... well said. This is merely a re-statement of what every second-year science and engineering student knows. It's called the third law of thermodynamics.
  36. Jim Oei from Surrey, Canada writes: You don't have to be a Rocket Scientist to figure out that this impending catastrophe is man made and just like the tragedy of the extinct Eastcoast Cod, the same thing will happen here and you will wind up with 5 giant dry craters. Boo-Hoo !!
  37. Mark Shore from Ottawa, Canada writes: Maybe the Great Lakes contain 1/5 of the world's liquid fresh water, but there's far more frozen fresh water contained in the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps. At least at this point in time.
  38. PHIL KING from Ottawa, Canada writes: CD W from orillia, Canada writes: 'If the lakes are getting warmer, according to the rising sea level theory held by some folks, the water as it gets warmer is that it has to expand and therefore increase its' volume and then cause shorelines to fall below the water line.'

    Jeeesus. Do I really need to point out that water condenses when it heats up, or conversely expands when frozen? Water is unique in this regard certainly, but I thought it was well known that ice floats?

    Along with the comments that complain about climate change being associated with extreme weather events, duh, I can understand why it is so hard for scientists to take the public seriously.
  39. Mark Shore from Ottawa, Canada writes: Phil King: Liquid water has a density maximum at 4° C and expands slightly as it cools to the freezing point, where it expands by 10% as it solidifies. So far so good. But, from 4° C to the boiling point, liquid water DOES expand, so CD W's point (if not post) is correct.

    Studies of rising ocean levels have to take warming of the water column into account.
  40. Alistair McLaughlin from Ottawa, Canada writes: Phil King, you are WRONG. Water does NOT condense as it heats up. It expands. It also expands when it freezes. It behaves differently as a solid than as a liquid. Learn some science before you start lecturing others.
  41. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: To Mark Shore... Along with the thermal expansion of water, you must also account for the increased evaporation rate. A column of water 5 miles deep (ocean), when expanded, will cause a much higher rise in level than a column 1200 ft deep (Lake Superior). At the same time, accounting for the same surface area, evaporation is similar for both (not accounting for diference in salinity). Therefore a shallower body of water (a lake) will be affected more by evaporation rate and much less by thermal expansion.

    In fact, without knowing the numbers off the top of my head, 1/5 of a mile deep (at its deepest) should expand about 1/25 the amount of the ocean, which is showing a rise of only a few cm. 1/25th of that would be almost negligible in comparison.

    Lake Superior is warmer now than it was when I grew up there in the 70's. It's the only one fo the Great Lakes where a kayaker or canoeist is advised to wear a wet suit while travelling open water, even in the summer. I haven't been paddling there for a few years, but it's one coooold lake! A little bit of heating will have a dramatic change in the vapour pressure of water above its surface!
  42. Ted Harrison from Canada writes: Water doesn't expand very much when it warms. A little, yes, but it mostly starts evaporating (it doesn't need to boil to evaporate, btw - obvious, I'm sure, but just in case...)
  43. Mark Shore from Ottawa, Canada writes: Enviro Leftnut.

    You're correct. My last sentence wasn't related to the Great Lakes and I should have made that clearer.

    Since Lake Superior's surface temperatures are up dramatically and its water level is down, the only explanation is reduced volume, either through decreased precipitation/runoff, increased surface evaporation, or most likely both.

    Or else some fool removed the big drain plug at the bottom.
  44. C. O. from Toronto, Canada writes: We need to dam James Bay and re-direct all that fresh water south. It's all going out through Hudson bay and to waste now.

    This would be a capital project worthy of Canada-who's with me!?
  45. Michael Sharp from Paradise Found, Canada writes:

    The Not So Great Lakes.

    The Average Lakes.

    The Lakes O' Fire.

    Lakes 'R' Us.

    Ricki Lake.
  46. J Broomer from Toronto, Canada writes: I have spent time in the Parry Sound area every summer since the mid 80s and watched the water slowly but surely drop. The most obvious evidence is seeing docks with rock cribs which now have ramps up from the shoreline instead of level or sloped downward as the case was years ago or the dirty marks on familiar rock outcroppings in the area well above the current water level. What I have also seen is an explosion of real estate in this area resulting in many more cottages, that is, if you can call a 3500 sf house a cottage. The cottage we visit has a single bathroom. I imagine these monster cottages have two or three and this is pretty much all that has been built in the last ten years. People either pull water from the lake or the water table and all this demand for water must have contributed to the dent in the lake levels as well. The real estate people always say they aren't making any more land, from what I have witnessed, it appears they may be mistaken.
  47. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: To C. O. from Toronto, sounds more like a sequel to 'Night of the Living Dead'. Why should we keep the calamity to ourselves, when we can export some of it to the north? After all, nobody actually LIVES up there, do they? Once all the wood is shipped south and the paper mills are closed, who's gonna need all that water? SUre beats learning to use resources responsibly!
  48. Robert Marshall from Scarborough, Canada writes: I think that their are 2 reasons for this.

    1) dredging down stream (especially in the Saint Lawrence Seaway area)

    and 2)

    Globe warming
  49. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Beyazet Ilderim:

    are we moving over to tossing insults toward each other? Do you have anything constructive to add to the discussion, or are you here to insult people?

    It's fair to put a bit of sarcasm and humour in to things, but when we start getting in to comments like 'your kind' it starts to get bigoted.
  50. Some Guy from Ottawa, Canada writes: The funny thing about climate change predictions is that there are many theories that are not all held by the same proponents. This creates confusion about what seems to be contradictory statements. The circulation of various views on climate change is only part of the problem. The other being that we're probobly all wrong. But, if you're in the business of selling 'energy efficient' light bulbs, you dont care, because your wallet is thick.
  51. james rawn from shuswap, Canada writes: 'What's going on? While there is no scientific certainty about what's ailing the Great Lakes' Hidden globalist agenda behind NAFTA and Free Trade. By 2025 the United Nations predicts that the number of people suffering from an inadequate supply of clean water will grow from the current level of 2 billion people to the staggering number of 5 billion. As a result, it is easy to understand why several large multinationals have targeted the future management of the world’s water systems as a potentially lucrative market The United Nations and the World Bank had a very important conference two years ago (2000) that deemed that water is a human need and not a human right, although an arm of the UN just two weeks ago said no, it’s a human right. This is a very important dispute because you can’t trade or sell a human right, but you can make money on a human need. 8 states pitch plan to divert Great Lakes water Eight American states bordering the Great Lakes are proposing new guidelines that would turn the taps on new and increased diversions. 'There are no standards for diversions now,' Sam Speck says. 'Canada doesn't have any voice in diversions states want to make.' Combined with the effects of climate change, dramatically expanded diversion could send water levels plummeting between five and 10 feet, that would virtually destroy the navigation industry, virtually destroy the hydro power industry, destroy all fish wildlife and recreation.' The World Bank has declared that by 2020, water will be the world's most sought-after commodity. By 2025, it projects that 4 billion people -- half of the world's population -- may live in 'conditions of severe water stress. What's going on...DUH? Brian Mulroney and those who aided in the creation of NAFTA should be charged for High Treason and Crimes Against Humanity. Water is BLUE GOLD to people like Mulroney and the rest of his corporate elite. Want to know what is going on...follow the money.
  52. C. O. from Toronto, Canada writes: Hi Enviro Leftnut -I think daming James Bay would benifit the locals up north. The jobs require to create the dam then manage the flow of valuable fresh water back south.
    The Great lakes would be secure and a much needed resource is fully utilized.
    I think it's sad that environmentalists hate their fellow man so much. Everything must be kept in it's natural state even if it means people suffer.
    Dam the Bay!
  53. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Hi C.O. I wouldn't say that environmentalist 'hate their fellow man', any more than industrialists who pollute the water and air, or drivers who spew poisoning exhausts. It does make a nice rhetorical tool, mind you.

    In principal, there is something to be said for diverting a large volume of water from one watershed to another. While there may be jobs building dams, they really don't take much to operate, and there is now a movement to reduce the number of dams in the U.S. to improve habitat for fish. It's always tempting to reach for a beckoning resource, such as the rivers in Northern Ontario, but it's completely selfish to assume that they are there for the taking, especially when we haven't explored all of the conservation options available to us.

    I think it demonstrates far more hate and contempt to assume that resources are up for grabs, and shows little leadership or imagination. Why not exhaust all other possibilities first? WHere does that end? Once that water runs out, do we just move on to the next watershed? OOPS, there isn't one! DO we have any idea what such a diversion might do to OUR ecosystem here in the south? Let's show some guts and use our heads and do some REAL problem solving, and quit acting like a bunch of termites. We have brains for a reason!
  54. Peter Fulton from Vancouver, Canada writes: ' about 99 per cent of the lake water is considered a legacy of the last ice age and is basically non-renewable.'

    Doesn't this mean it would take 100 years to completely change the water in the lakes, or to fill them from scratch.

    Let no one be fooled into thinking the lakes are filled with water from the last ice age...
  55. jojo savard from Canada writes: Ha! ha! all you deniers make me laugh... and worry me.

    be it global warming, or dredging, or a combination of various environmental blunders committed against the great lakes, blaming natural cycles is like blaming the victim. Get your heads out of the sand. This would hardly be the first environmental disaster of our making. Aral Sea anyone?
  56. C. O. from Toronto, Canada writes: Hey Enviro Leftnut -the fresh water flowing into James Bay then the ocean is wasted now -in fact I think I remember reading that by diverting all that fresh water from Hudson Bay we'd be improving the environment there as the mix of fresh and salt water prevents a lot of sea life from living there.
    So we add that water to the Great Lakes and where else needed.

    I get it that we should conserve but there are about 40 million people who depend on the Great Lakes for water and conservation is not going to be enough. The population is growing.

    Let's prepare for this change by utilizing availble resources which would have a minimum impact on the environment.

    Dam the bay!
  57. Karin Green from Princeton, BC, Canada writes: dallas mcquarrie from Regina, Canada writes: Those who wish their children and grandchildren to drink from urinals and eat from toilet bowls will continue to deny climate change and the threat it poses. Ignorance truly is bliss...

    Now I have heard everything!!! What become of human reason???

    I wonder though, how will the water get into the urinals - and would it not be better if we just go outside and pee on the ground like in the good old days?
  58. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Peter Fulton, 99% of the water in Lake Superior IS glacial. It does not mean that the water turns over every hundred years! It means that only (and this varies a bit year by year) 1% of the water is involved in the lake's natural water cycle.

    For example, if we draw the water down 0.5%, it can replenish that amount (over the course of many years, perhaps). If we draw it down 2%, we have now permanently doomed the average water level of the lake to be 1% below it's historic average, never to recover. If you were to drain them completely, the best you could hope for is a dry crater with a puddle 12 feet at its deepest.
  59. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: To C. O. from Toronto, define 'wasted'. What are the conservation options, and to what extent have they been explored?
  60. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: And BTW, everybody. The Great Lakes basin is slowly springing back from having glaciers sitting on top of them. I recall (though I'm not sure) that this amounted to millimetres per decade. The Midwest may get their wish after all, if some of the rivers in Michigan and Wisconsin start flowing south!
  61. Robert Dresser from Parksville, BC, Canada writes: It's no coincidence that so many critics of global warming science come from urban areas. Having altered your immediate environment long ago by the simple act of urban development the current changes are harder to see. Here on Vancouver Island where we don't have that developmental history the evidence of recent climate change is obvious. We see it in the forests, the rivers and in the ocean and there's plenty of changes to be seen. Those who say our earth hasn't lost one drop of water are right. What global warming causes is sustained changes in precipitation patterns - droughts and floods, often in the same place. Too much precip all at once can be as destructive as too little.
  62. Dogman Smith from Halifax, Canada writes: "There's something happening here"... Yes, Crichton is fiction. Bjorn Lomborg, statistician from Denmark is not. Google him. The Rhine and Thames are cleaner. London now has cleaner air than any time since they started using coal for heat in late 1400's. We are making progress. No need to panic. Al Gore aside (read P.J.O'Rourke on Al before he became a saint.), the sky is not falling.
  63. Karin Green from Princeton, BC, Canada writes: Whoa there - Robert Dresser of Parksville, B.C. who writes: "It's no coincidence that so many critics of global warming science come from urban areas. " Their addresses indicate to me that more global alarmists stem from cities. I think this is probably due to the reality that urbanites have so little contact with real nature and are more heavily bombarded by media hype than country folk. Robert continues: "We see it in the forests, the rivers and in the ocean and there's plenty of changes to be seen." I am very familiar with Vancouver Island. We have vacationed there for decades. What exactly do you see in the way of radical changes, not caused by development? Please - be more specific when you make such claims. I have reached a point where it is impossible to obtain unbiased information on the issue of global warming so I started my own research project using the only raw date I can find – the Weather Network. I have tracked the high and low record temperatures for the Town of Princeton, B.C. from June 1/07 to the present, along with the actual difference from the daily norms. At the end of the complete year I will know where the truth lies. So far, I find that the very hottest period here was 1937 to 1944. The hottest year was 1941 when temperatures of 41 and 42 were registered and the mean records came to 39.5. A similar hot period occurred from 1967 to 1972 when records highs averaged at 35.4. No similar tight clustering of hot years has happened since 1972. 1981 and 1994 were hot but in relative isolation. Rather, my data indicates a more even distribution of high and low temperatures with no observable upward trend. For this summer the average high temperature was an insignificant .001 of one centigrade above the normal, established as 1961 to 1990. Princeton clearly was part of the global warming effect that people now claim peaked in 1934 but after that it seems that I am living on a different planet.
  64. dirk dirk from Canada writes: Another cause of great lake depletion is the fact that many Wisconsin and perhaps some Michigan cities draw their drinking water from the great lakes, thus removing water from the great lakes drainage basin. However the outlets from thier water treatment systems are on the other side of town and drain into the missippi river drainage basin. The result is a net loss.

    I think most of those situations have been identified and plans are in place to return treated water back to the system it was sourced from.
  65. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Karin, that's an interesting project that you've embarked upon. Hard to say if measuring Weather Network readings for one summer counts. Records are often broken off-season...lok at spring and fall records, and winter averages. It's pretty hard ot tell from all of this.

    It's true, Vancouver Island probably doesn't show as much effect. With lots of moderation from the ocean it could take years longer here than elsewhere. I think the largest effect is seen in the Arctic, but I also notice it here at home. It's been years since there's been a good cross-country ski season here, except for very small areas, there's been, on average, very little snow in the past twenty years. When I go north to Sault Ste. Marie I can hardly believe the difference. All anectdotal, as anything we mere mortals can observe will ever be.

    And it's true, Dogman, many rivers are cleaner. Why? Perhaps because popular pressure encouraged governments to enact good legislation, forcing business to stop using our air and water as their god-given sewers? I'm sure chemical companies didn't stop emissions out of the goodness of their hearts!

    As evidenced by my own experience trying to breathe in Southern Ontario, we still have a long way to go, and apologists from the Fraser Institute who try to placate us by saying it's better are only getting in the way of making it the best it can be. Let's stop listening to corporate whinging and get on with the job of cleaning up the mess we've made!
  66. Noise Machine from Toronto, Canada writes: I'm convinced this is a manifestation of Global Warming and I'm also convinced that lifestyles such as that of the Canadian are unsustainable, unrealistic and are a major contributer to climate change. But do we really care?

    In my books it's obscene to witness so many monster homes occupied by two or three people and filling the monster with countless computer screens, T.V's hot-tubs, whirl-pools, backyard swimming pools and everything else. This is a disgrace, materialism gone mad.

    It's been said if every citizen on the globe lived as we do, we'd need six planet Earth's to provide sufficient resources for sustainability. Contrast this way of life with the Mennonite way of life, living well within their ecological means.

    This is one reason why I can no longer support a secular school system which passes these values on to it's young. It may well be that religion with all of it's warts is more compatible with life than the deleterious values espoused by the larger secular community. Bill Murdock doesn't seem to understand this.
  67. anthony wall from Vancouver, BC, Canada writes: Really?
  68. Gnarly kanuck from Ottawa, Canada writes: gordon mcpherson from Ottawa, Canada writes: However, considering the population increase around the Great Lakes over the past 100 years, that's alot of toilets, washing machines, dish washers to run not counting industrial uses i.e. from golf courses to irrigation to industrial cooling for the same water etc...
    ===
    Funny thing Nature is... a typical watershed takes days and weeks to flush water through the hydrological cycle.... Urban Sewar systems take 15 minutes to flush the water from where it fell to the watercourse... As we build our cities, we are upsetting the natural balance... once we cross the tipping point, Cities will not be sustainable as they stand.
  69. My eyes are open, Are yours? from Canada writes: Most Canadians living around the Great Lakes - your water usage eventually drains back into the lake. Whether you water your lawn/driveway or whatever, the water either runs off and down the sewer into the lake, or evaporates and rains back down. Maybe someone can enlighten me that lake evaporation is being blown over to Africa, but until then I think it rains down fairly close.

    So keep taking showers people, especially if you ride public transit!
  70. Remain Nameless from Ottawa, Canada writes: People have such short memories. My family has had a cottage on Lake Huron (near Goderich) for more than 50 years, and we have seen it all. -- in the 50's we had a modest beach in front of our cottage, at the bottom of the bluffs. Many cottagers built boathouses and other structures on the beach. -- In the early-mid 60's the water was lower than it is now. Everyone blamed the dams on the St. Lawrence seaway for letting too much water through! --By the mid-late 70's, the water level were so high that tens of thousands of boathouses and cottagers' steps were washed of the embankment; we had no beach at all; erosion was so bad all the cottagers in our area had to move their cottages or risk having them tumble over the embankment. This time those dams on the seaway were blamed for holding back too much water. -- By the mid-90's water levels retruned to where they were in the 50s. A new generation of cottagers happily rebuilt the boathouses that were washed away in the 70s. -- in the early 2000s, water levels were low, back to where they were in the 60s. -- water levels are now up from where they were 2 or 3 years ago, close to the levels of the 90s. I have little doubt that in 10 years the water levels will be up and the boathouses will be washed away again. So goes the cycle.
  71. Gnarly kanuck from Ottawa, Canada writes: Remain Nameless from Ottawa, Canada writes: People have such short memories. My family has had a cottage on Lake Huron (near Goderich) for more than 50 years, and we have seen it all. -- in the 50's we had a modest beach in front of our cottage, at the bottom of the bluffs. Many cottagers built boathouses and other structures on the beach. -- In the early-mid 60's the water was lower than it is now. Everyone blamed the dams on the St. Lawrence seaway for letting too much water through! --By the mid-late 70's, the water level were so high that tens of thousands of boathouses and cottagers' steps were washed of the embankment; we had no beach at all; erosion was so bad all the cottagers in our area had to move their cottages or risk having them tumble over the embankment. This time those dams on the seaway were blamed for holding back too much water. -- By the mid-90's water levels retruned to where they were in the 50s. A new generation of cottagers happily rebuilt the boathouses that were washed away in the 70s. -- in the early 2000s, water levels were low, back to where they were in the 60s. -- water levels are now up from where they were 2 or 3 years ago, close to the levels of the 90s. I have little doubt that in 10 years the water levels will be up and the boathouses will be washed away again. So goes the cycle.
    ====

    This is so true.
  72. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: To Remain Nameless from Ottawa, that's all very true. I remember similar things. This time Lake Superior has dropped steadily for ten years running. This has not happened before. Does it mean something? Probably. What does it mean? Hard to say. Makes me wonder, I'll say that.

    So, Lake Superior aside, it's far more unsettling watching the Antarctic melt. No record of that happening for hundreds of thousands of years!

    Never underestimate humanities ability to stick it's head up it's collect rear-end. Denial is merely a symptom of our inherent laziness.
  73. Frank N. Stein from Canada writes: The lakes are warming up - awesome. This just means more beach days cruising with a six of Coronas and brand new pair of Speedos. Oh yeah Grotto, here I come.
  74. Tom McMallow from Canada writes:

    Editors often try to impress us with meaningless "wow you" stats. Like water to fill 4000 pools. What's that about?

    Actually, to better visualize this, how about a cube of water 700 feet on a side, as tall as a 50 or 60 story office tower? Or enough to raise the level of Lake Ontario by half a millimeter - the thickness of about 5 sheets of photo-copy paper. Enough to run Niagara Falls for 29 minutes.

    Lots of water, but nothing compared to what's in the lakes there.
  75. Michael Kierans from Czech Republic writes: Dear C.O. from Toronto: You would not, per chance, be refering to the GRAND Canal project proposed by Thomas William Kierans of St. John's Newfoundland in the early 1960's. Go to http://ca.geocities.com/grandcanal2005/ or look him or GRAND CANAL up in Wikipedia and find out all about it. He was fifty years ahead of his time and has been forced to live to a grand and vibrant 94 so that the rest of North America would have time to could catch up with him. BTW The GRAND CANAL makes sense and it WILL happen.
  76. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: To Tom McMallow, are you including the 99% glacial, or what? And what, pray tell, is the point you are making?
  77. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Michael Kierans, I just checked it out. Doesn't actually say much. The notion that excessive ice on Hudson Bay causes "problems". What exactly does he mean by that? Will this continue to be an issue if we no longer have ice-pack on Hudson Bay? Where are the references to science that he has done? What shows that he is ahead of his time? Have alternatives, perhaps much less costly ones, been considered?

    If I were to see just this without being prompted, quite honestly, and not wanting to offend somebody who is probably a relative of yours, I would say that the page was created by a a nutbar. Hats off to the guy for living to 94, and obviously still alive and well.
  78. Michael Kierans from Czech Republic writes: Dear Enviro Leftnut: By my calculation, you spent a full 7 minutes considering the GRAND CANAlL proposal. My father has spent 70 years. May I respectfully suggest you take some more time and look into it.

    Regarding offending him. I don't think you currently have the status to do so.
  79. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: To Michael Kierans, then surely 70 years has produced answers to some of my questions? Does he have further links? I'm genuinely curious. I don't think I'm asking any questions that any level-headed citizen wouldn't ask. If we are going to go ahead and commit ourselves to something as grandiose as this proposal, we might best share all of the facts , and make up our minds intelligently.

    In the meantime, I have a hard time feeling sorry for the parts of the world, particularly the Ameircan soutwest, who have brazenly squandered their water resurces, leaving their aqueducts open to the harsh sun, and causing the salination of their water-tables. I suggest they get their own houses in order before we commit potential environmental calamity to feed their bad habits.
  80. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Michael Kierans, I have respectfully or otherwise, searched for this fella, and found nothing except some references to the Liberal Party of Canada. I do remember a show on CBC that had Eric Kierans on it, and he was always introduced as being representative of the Liberals. He and Dalton Camp occasionally went at it. Steven Lewis was also on the show, but was often quite demure.

    I have also spent most of my adult life concerning myself with a broad range of environmental topics. The one frequent theme is the inability for social groups to take care of their own messes, and how they are often eager to let someone bail them out. Or they simply walk away from them, leaving behind disasters for somebody else to live with. I equate shipping water to the southwest with Toronto shipping garbage to Michigan.
  81. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Micael Kierans...

    No doubt your rleative is also a darling of the rich and famous. The trilateral commission reads like a who's-who of Canadian power and money. Of course they would love to get their hands on this, if we would ever let them. Thanks, Michael, for pointing this out. I had thought that this issue had died, but apparently the loonies are still out braying for thier masters.

    Who eaxactly do we expect to benefit from this? Power Corp. and Les Demarais? Asia Power Corp.? (Of the wonderful Three Gorges Dam fame.)
  82. Michael Kierans from Czech Republic writes: Dear Enviro Leftnut: I am curious too. But mainly I am curious why water as a natural resource engenders such passions in people in general and Canadians in particular. Canada has been brazenly selling every resource imaginable to the Americans from time immemorial. Suddenly, when we start talking about water I hear the quiet clicks of Canadian panic buttons being pushed. There must be something primordially sacred about "water": source of all life and all that stuff. The bottom line is that it is the source of all life and if the Canadians try to deny the thirsty Americans water the thirsty Americans will simply take it. Nothing trumps the security of the United States and water supply will eventually become a matter of security. Did we not see something similary to this in Iraq. So, it is not a question of "if" but of "when" as to whether the Americans are going to come knocking for Canadian water. The sooner the Canadians accept this and get into meaningful negotiation the sell the Americans what they need the better off they are going to be. BTW the proper word is not "diversion" but "reclamation" as the waters we are talking about are all currently "lost" to Hudson Bay. Send my dad an email at tomkierans@nl.rogers.com I am sure he will gladly provide further details.
  83. campbell atkinson from victoria bc, Canada writes: The gentleman with a new golf course also is gettinng what is called a stranded beach. there are a number of them on hills around Lake Superior and elsewhere in Canada. While I do not challenge "global warning" I think it would be useful if these could be studied ny scientist. Ehat were earth,s ice conditions in each earlier era and how quickly did the stranding come about. Answers might test current thinking re time spans of change
  84. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: I prefer the word diversion...it's your word "reclamation" that is rhetorical. Moving massive volumes of water from one watershed to another hardly counts as "reclamation". The word "lost" is highly dependent upon the point of view.

    It's true, we ahve been selling lots of stuff stateside, and we have sometimes benefited, and other times lost a great deal. We ahve stripped our forests bare, and partly through our own inactions and partly through circumstances of soil chemistry, have been unable to "reclaim" these forests. This, coming from a Northern Ontario boy, does indeed invoke passion.

    17 nuclear reactors along the shore of James Bay? Who's going to take all the radioactive waste? Us? For what? So that the American southwest can water their golf courses? And who gets the profit from this? How is this going to make life better for the people of Canada, particularly in the north?
  85. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: To Campbell Atkinson, the stranded beaches are the result of the "springback" that I mentioned earlier. You may recall seeing pictures in grade seven geography books about the formation of the Great Lakes and their shoreline migrations over time. The land around the lakes is slowly rising after been under the strain of miles of ice for tens of thousands of years. These "beaches" are thousands of years old. There are some great ones on the south shore of Superior, and everybody in Southern Ontario knows about either the Sandbanks or the Grand Bend sand dunes. (Pinery Park)
  86. Cheryl Cormier from Canada writes: In reference to Ms. Muter's, belief in dredging has made the river bed more susceptible to erosion, and the group commissioned finding proof of it. Does make a whole lot of sense to putting in the large boulders and fixing some of the problems now, instead of sitting on our hands for another three years waiting for someone else to tell us something we already know. And losing another three years of water that could have been prevented in the first place. Stop putting off till tomorrow what should be done today.
  87. Michael Kierans from Czech Republic writes: Dear Euroleftnut: If the water that flows into Hudson Bay is not lost perhaps you could tell me what you would like to do with it. Or would you just like to sit on the shores of Hudson Bay and look out on what you know in you heart to be your very own partly salinated partly fresh Canadian water knowing that your neighbours to the south a dying of thirst. We are not talking golf courses we are talking the source of all life.

    Please look into it, think about it and maybe we can talk when you come off your super Canada high!! BTW Where did you get the bit about the 17 Reactors.
  88. J L from Toronto, Canada writes: Grade school and high school science classes told me that lakes will gradually - and naturally - fill in by sedimentation. I will not exclude the possibility that human activity may be affecting the water levels in the Great Lakes, but I thought I should point that out...
  89. Michael Kierans from Czech Republic writes: My apologies. That should have been "Eviro" Leftnut. I am "Euro Leftnut"
  90. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Hi again, Michael. I did take you up on your offer of e-mailing your dad. Thanks for that.

    Of course we would never let people die of thirst, would we? I'm not sure that creating a barrage across James Bay is the best solution, is all. Perhaps there are some things that they could be doing for themselves to prevent this from getting worse than it already is. I would rather exhaust those possibilities before stacking up plutonium in my backyard for their lack of planning and self-control.

    I've been to Palm Springs, and I've driven around Bob Hope's "yard". Until they lose this nonsense it's going to be pretty hard to sell anybody on the idea that they've done all they can to conserve water.

    Their agricultural practices are also way out of date. I rode my bike down the California coast a few years ago, and by the time I got to San Luis Obispo the fileds were full of produce and irriagtion systems were dumping water on TOP of the plants in the heat of day. Nary a drip system in sight!

    They run the water from the Colorado and the Rio Grande in open channels, losing around 50% of it to evaporation! Put a lid on it for cryin' out loud!

    The only hope was the sight of all the windmills on the highway from L.A. to Palm Springs. They've been there for years, and are still spinnin'
  91. Enviro Leftnut from Kingston, Canada writes: Michael...let's not get our leftnuts confused!
  92. Gordon MacNay from Barrie, Canada writes: We have a water front Cottage on Lake Huron that's been in the family since the 1930's when my Grandfather built it. I've noticed the ebb and flow of the Lake over the past 40 years and there is a cycle that has been observed

    Here's the graph
    http://pcba.ca/New%20Network%20Means%20Graph4.gif

    What's rather odd in this cycle is that the Lake has always been observed to have risen by this time in the cycle...if the cycle is not being affected by other events. Our shore line experienced change in the shape and composition in 1986 when the levels crested higher than ever observed before. Our sandy dunes were replaced by more rock and muck and eventually cat tails and common reeds began to appear. This change altered the shoreline again by trapping sediment and raising the terra where water once lapped against the shoreline. It's a constant evolution at play.

    Global Warming (you're a fool to deny it exists) may be a factor yet the dredging of Lake St. Clair has definitely changed the natural flow of the Lakes.

    Here's the Baird Report detailing the findings...it's 10 Mb so dial up users ne warned.
    http://georgianbay.ca/pdf/waterlevels/10814%20St%5B1%5D.%20Clair%20River%20ReportV5_w%20A%20&%20B.pdf

    More resources here...
    http://pcba.ca/water%20quality.htm

    Whatever the cause it is an issue affecting transportation, the economy, wildlife and humans. It's all connected and we all peril by not investigating the cause and effect of the loss of unrenewable water resources.
  93. Ian St. John from Toronto, Canada writes: "J L from Toronto, Canada writes: Grade school and high school science classes told me that lakes will gradually - and naturally - fill in by sedimentation. I will not exclude the possibility that human activity may be affecting the water levels in the Great Lakes, but I thought I should point that out... "

    Did they suggest the sedimentation fill would lower the surfavce level? One normally would expect the opposite.
  94. Gwen Harris from Toronto, Canada writes: There really isn't a question anymore about whether humans are changing the climate - they are and this has been very obvious from the rising carbon counts and changing temperatures over the past 40 years. Scientists know it, but it seems people are still in great denial. The oceans are rising because land ice is melting and the waters are expanding. The Great Lakes are falling in part because precipitation patterns have changed, there is more evaporation because there isn't the ice and snow cover in the winter, and because there is increasing demand by humans - and the dredging near Sarnia hasn't helped. The lakes most affected are Superior, Michigan, and Huron. These changes are significant. It isn't just that the water levels have fallen - it's also the enormous impact to the ecology, marine life and plant life. We are just a few degrees away from experiencing the highest temperatures man has ever experienced on this planet. Read Elizabeth Kolbert's book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe, and take off the blinkers. Perhaps because it will be so difficult to arrest the effect of global warming we should take immediate action to slow the outflow on the St Clair river and put more controls over the amount of water removed. If we ruin the Great Lakes, the continent will never recover.
  95. Upper Canadian born and raised in Western Canada from St Albert, Canada writes: Global Warming is a tad oversimplifying the issue, isn't it?

    We (the human population) affect the planet on a macro level now. If you've never considered a 'birds eye view' of this before, pictures from space taken by NASA might help.

    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap001127.html
  96. Unrepentant Outdoorsman from Canada writes: It's those nasty Americans, they've built this hugh sucking machine to tap the Great Lakes, and steal our water in the middle of the night when we're sleeping. Or is it the Albertans, hmmm.
  97. Fred Butler from writes: You can shed light or you can spreak fear. Your article spreads fear.

    I suggest just a little research. "Google" Great Lakes, water levels and take a look at some of the charts presented. in the NOAA website for example. Far from being at the lowest levels historically, the lakes are a long way from their 1926 levels. And Lake Ontario is in fact slightly above the average of the past 100 years.

    People seem to need an apocalypse in their lives and global warming is this decade's "the end is nigh!! But the Globe rather than feeding into this, should offer some reasurances when there is ample evidence to the contrary.
  98. L. van Dyk from Canada writes: I was very interested in the comments by Ravi Karumanchiri from Toronto, near the top of this very long column.

    Ravi, you said in part that "As with any complex system, when you add more energy to it, the trend of its general
    behaviour is typically not in one direction alone, but rather towards increased instability instead.
    What you typically get is a phenomenon known as “accelerating oscillation”, whereby wider
    swings to farther extremes become the new norm. As for climate change, it is not certain that
    droughts and desertification around equatorial and temperate regions will preclude a new ice
    age closer to the poles. In fact, this is a very strong possibility."

    Ravi, I understand in general about oscillation of complex systems.
    May I ask you to expand on the strong possibility of an ice age at the poles? The sea ice seems to be melting.
    I hope you read this, the 24th of September was some time ago.
  99. L. van Dyk from Canada writes: ... The oscillation amplitude increases as more energy is added to the system...
    I can't understand how the climate as we view it now would polarize to the degree of an ice age at the poles and desertification near the equator.
    But in history it seems that the earth has regulated itself somehow. Cloud cover?
    Maybe we should fear the next thing that happens after the initial warming. I don't think anybody knows what that will be.

    Unless it's evolution.
  100. L. van Dyk from Canada writes: Discovery channel today mentioned that glaciation has happened many times before, and quickly.
    The ocean conveyors, the currents like the Gulf Stream and others, shut down and prevent heat transfer across the planet... if it works that's how it might work.
    I'm not sure what to think about climate change anymore. But reduce, reuse and recycle still apply.
    Ravi had the best comment.
  101. Lawrence Davis from United States writes: Great blog with lots of useful information and excellent commentary! Thanks for sharing.

    http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/Direct-TV.html
    http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/Dish-Network.html
    http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/Satellite-Radio.html
    http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/T1-Internet-Service.html
    http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/Satellite-DSL.html
    http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/Satellite-Internet.html
    http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/VoIP.html
    http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/Phone-Systems.html
    http://www.1-satellite-tv-facts.com/Affiliate-Programs.html

Comments are closed

Thanks for your interest in commenting on this article, however we are no longer accepting submissions. If you would like, you may send a letter to the editor.

Report an abusive comment to our editorial staff

close

Alert us about this comment

Please let us know if this reader’s comment breaks the editor's rules and is obscene, abusive, threatening, unlawful, harassing, defamatory, profane or racially offensive by selecting the appropriate option to describe the problem.

Do not use this to complain about comments that don’t break the rules, for example those comments that you disagree with or contain spelling errors or multiple postings.

Back to top