The Great Lakes: Great Today, but Gone Tomorrow

For most Michiganians, a significant amount of our summer memories, past or present, have taken place sitting around the lake. Whether it be boating, kayaking, swimming, wading, or relaxing, none of our favorite summer activities would be possible without our Great Lakes. We love them enough to own cottages on their shores, but do we sacrifice any of our own time and effort to improve their water quality so our children will be able to have similar memories?

Unfortunately, if we continue neglecting the importance of bettering our lakes, our children will not be having these same summertime experiences. Our beloved lakes are being contaminated each and every day because of our careless actions at home. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released information about toxic contaminants, such as organic chemicals and metals, being found in all five Great Lakes. Just because organic is in the title of the contaminants does not mean they should naturally be there. In fact, these toxins enter into the Great Lakes from waste sites and land runoff near industrialized areas.

So now, imagine this: In the year 2112, your descendants, who live in Ohio, are driving back to Michigan. The sign on the highway greets them with, “Welcome to Michigan! The Unusable Water State!” They drive up into northern Michigan and arrive at their cottage. The little girl cannot wait to swim, but can she? No, because the water her ancestors used to boat and kayak in, is now endangering her life.

This story, although fictional, is one possible scenario in the future. If we don’t step up and begin recycling and properly disposing of our garbage and other chemicals we use daily, in our homes and careers, then that young girl will miss so many opportunities to create her own lakeside memories. If want to preserve our own memorable times, then we need to take action.

There are so many ways to get involved besides the incredibly, necessary, daily task of recycling. We need to protect our lakes from the invading Asian Carp who kill out many of our own native fish, defend our lakes from pipeline oil spills, and most of all introduce today’s youth to the issues facing our environment, but specifically those regarding our the Great Lakes, today. Their care and attention to these grave problems is our hope for the future. So, protect your memories as well as your future great-granddaughter’s by protecting your Great Lakes today.