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Lake Superior hurt by climate change -- Carol Steinhart

August 22, 2018

I’m not surprised that human activity, including human-caused climate change, is implicated in Lake Superior’s cyanobacteria bloom, according to Thursday’s story “Researchers look into Lake Superior algae bloom.” Even the “several major storms” said to have played a role cannot be entirely attributed to nature’s vagaries, because such storms are an expected consequence of climate change.

The myth of a pristine Lake Superior is -- a myth. Superior is simply less dirty than the other Great Lakes. Forty years ago its major pollutant was mine runoff. Now other pollutants are of concern, and once in the lake they stay. Superior’s “flushing time” is about 200 years, compared to less than 3 years for Lake Erie. That’s why rehabilitation of Erie was relatively easy after the Cuyahoga River burned, and why Superior’s problems are particularly ominous.

I hope we appreciate what a fragile and precious resource Lake Superior is, how vital to our lives, before it’s too late. Unlike many issues, climate change and the environment bridge everything that separates us, whether age, religious or political beliefs, socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity, or any other categorization.

I hope we all become climate activists, but we may disagree on everything else.

Carol Steinhart, Madison

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