Tag Archives: Great Lakes

A Bottle of Beer May Be More Healthy Than Water


Imagine yourself at the beach on a bright sunny late morning. It is hot. The kids are playing in the sand. A cool breeze comes in from Saginaw Bay. Time for a refreshing drink. You open the cooler. You have a glass bottle of frosty beer or a plastic bottle of ice-cold water. Which do you chose?

Shock! No Water from Tap or Bottle is Really Clean

Water Nestle

New research by Orb Media, a nonprofit journalism organization based in Washington, D.C., showed that a single plastic bottle of water contains from a few dozen to thousands of strands of microscopic plastic. Researchers at the State University of New York at Fredonia conducted the study. Their results showed that on average, a plastic liter bottle of water contained about 10.4 microplastic particles about the width of a human hair.

The groups earlier work on the level of plastic found in tap water inspired the study. The University showed the “ubiquitous plastic contamination in tap water across the globe, with the highest rate found in the U.S”

The study sampled bottled water from various locations around the globe. They pointed the cause of contamination was partly the result of plastic packaging, and partly the fault of the bottling process. The survey included brands like Nestle, Aquafina, San Pellegrino, Dasani and Evian. Nestle has a bottling plant in Michigan that is currently embroiled in a controversial plan to double the amount of water from Michigan’s underground water aquifer.

Plastic Micro-Pollution is Global

In 2017, the United Nations issued a report that noted that more than a quarter of all fish now contain plastic. They analyzed the guts of fish sold at markets in Indonesia and California.


 

Great Lakes Severally Affected 

microplastics great lakes

Cosmetic and home product companies, including Clarins, Estée Lauder and Proctor & Gamble have pledged to halt the sale and cease utilizing ‘microbeads’, small plastic pieces used as an exfoliating agent in soap and make-up. In 2012 we published a story that a study was conducted showing that microplastic was found in Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay. The 2012 study, was conducted by the 5 Gyres Institute headed by Dr. Sherri Mason SUNY College at Fredonia New York. Water samples were taken in the Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario and showed an average abundance was approximately 43,000 microplastic particles/km2.

No Way to Stop Micro-Pollution?

Synthetic fibers released into the Great Lakes and oceans occur even after the water has been treated. The tiny fibers seep to the lakes from laundry water from artificial fabrics like fleece and polyester. This is the source and one of the biggest causes of plastic pollution in the ocean.

Microplastic Effect on Humans Uncertain – But It Doesn’t Look Good

The plastic pollution problem may be even worse in the Great Lakes than in the oceans. The University of Wisconsin-Superior found that the number of microparticles — which are more harmful to marine life because of their small size — was 24 percent higher in the Great Lakes than in samples they collected in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. 65 million pounds of fish are caught in the Great Lakes each year. Dr. Lorena Rios Mendoza, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, said that the bits of plastic have a great capacity to attract persistent pollutants to their surface. “Plastics are not just acting as mimic food, but they can also cause physical damage to the organism,” she said. The EPA warns that Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBTs) chemicals or substances pose a risk to the marine environment because they resist degradation, persisting for years or even decades. PBTs are toxic to humans and marine organisms and have been shown to accumulate at various levels through the food chain.

Clearly more work needs to be done to ascertain the effect on health and to develop processes to clean and prevent this micro-pollution.


ThumbWind-Follow-Us-On-Twitter

Advertisements

Trump Welcomes Another Foreign Company to Suck the Life Out of The Great Lakes.


Trump-foxconn
Trump welcomes Foxconn Chair Terry Gou to the White House

Reuters is reporting that Wisconsin is not even projected to break even on a $3 billion incentive package for a proposed LCD screen plant by Taiwan’s Foxconn for at least 25 years, a legislative analysis showed on Tuesday.

Instead Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Scott Walker was rolled like a Pillsbury Doughboy crescent roll into providing $3 billion in cash incentives and the ability for Foxconn to suck out  million of gallons of clean fresh Lake Michigan water to make cheap LCD TV screens. Foxconn estimates it will initially bring up to 3,000 jobs with the plant. With Wisconsin paying them a $1,000,000 for each job they better prey it pays off.


Foxconn-worker


This Taiwanese-owned LCD manufacturing facility will require loads of water for its production process; up to 7 million gallons a day will be pulled from Lake Michigan. Of the water used only 5 million treated wastewater will return to the lake, the rest lost to evaporation of the pollutive manufacturing process. Lake Michigan is the the source of drinking water for millions of people especially Chicago. 

President Trump welcomed the sucking sound of water being siphoned from our Great Lakes by a Taiwanese company. He hosted Terry Gou Chairman of Foxconn to the White House in July 2017. As part of the announced deal Foxconn would also be exempt from an environmental impact statement and be able to avoid several other environmental protection rules that other companies must comply with.

Back in 2000, a Canadian company named Nova Group sparked outrage across the Great Lakes region when it proposed to withdraw millions of gallons water via container ship from Lake Superior water and sell it in Asia. The US objected and this led Canada to crack down on freshwater exports.  

Canada may consider doing the same here. 


Sources : whitehouse.gov, foxxconn.com, Reuters and others

ThumbWind-Mercantile-banner

Paddle Turnip Rock – Five Things to Know


Turnip Rock is an Easy Paddle

One of the most amazing sites in the Upper Thumb is Turnip Rock. Carved over time by the force of constant wave action the soft limestone has been shaped to its namesake and separated from the mainland over thousands of years. CNN called it one of the Most Amazing Rock Formations in America and Pure Michigan featured it on it’s 2016 magazine cover. International travelers coming into Detroit Metropolitan Airport see Turnip Rock as their first view of Michigan’s wonder scenes coming into customs. It’s a marvel to behold and it’s an easy trip if the conditions are right.

This small guide offers a local point of view to avoid problems with the local law enforcement and property owners while being able to enjoy a unique natural wonder.


Paddle to Turnip Rock Port Austin Michigan


Turnip Rock is on Private Land

Despite its uniqueness as a natural wonder is located and surrounded by private land. Thus the only way to access it is from the water. Fortunately that can easily be achieved by canoe or kayak. This means that you can’t go feet dry. Stay in the water. If you must get out of our kayak stay as close to waters edge as possible. (Unless its an emergency)



Paddling  Near the Rock on Busy Weekends

During the weekends the number of paddlers can get quite large. If the area around the rock is crowded consider paddling a few hundred yards past and view the overhangs and cave features that border the Pointe Aux Barques community.  During the late 1800’s the cave were hideouts for fugitives. It’s worth taking a few minutes to explore.  You may be tempted to get out of your kayak and climb the rocks for a view. This is a no-no and there are several signs reminding not to trespass. (IMHO these signs are obtrusive, and possibly illegal as they are posted under the high water mark of Lake Huron)


Pointe Aux Barques Caves


Heed Weather and Travel Time

Plan on 2-3 hours total travel time to Turnip Rock from Port Austin. This assumes that the winds and lake are calm. You will paddle north-east along the shallow coastline until you see the small cliffs that mark the start of Pointe Aux Barques. If the wind is strong and the there are waves it’s a wise idea to defer to another day. Novice paddlers have been pushed by southern winds out into the lake requiring assistance or rescue.



Can I Climb on Turnip and Fingernail Rocks?

Despite numerous YouTube and other postings showing people climbing all over the rock formation, you are urged to not imbibe. The shore formations above the high water mark is private land. People have been hurt trying to climb it and arrested for trespass. Also the limestone is rather fragile and prone to breakage and collapse. The best way to mark your visit is to capture the rock formation with digital photos of you and your peeps in unique light and weather. Stay wet and wild and get a great shot from the water.   


Turnip Rock what to Bring


What to Bring on Board

Life jacket, Sunglasses, sunscreen, small towel, cell phone and a dry bag. Bring water and something to munch on. Water shoes are also highly recommended. It’s not a strenuous trip but winds and weather can make it a challenge for the unprepared.



Leave No Trace

Leaving no trace is everyone’s responsibility. While paddling to the rock remember to minimize your impact so it can be enjoyed for the next generation. Here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace.

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare. …
  • Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. …
  • Dispose of Waste Properly (Pack It In, Pack It Out) …
  • Leave What You Find. …
  • Minimize Campfire Impacts. …
  • Respect Wildlife. …
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors.

ThumbWind-Mercantile-banner

Great Lakes Ship Building


I recently ran across a online resource for Great Lakes Shipping enthusiasts.  The Fr. Edward J. Dowling, S.J. Marine Historical Collection offers an ever expanding data set of ships, shipbuilders and ship names that span back to the 1830’s. 


Steamship Alpena

“The collection also contains 52 notebooks filled with more than 70 years worth of compiled data on virtually every steamship (about 10,000) of more than 100 tons that has navigated the Great Lakes. The data includes the years of which the ships were built, their owners, the ships’ dimensions, type of equipment used on them, final disposition and other data. In addition, the collection has details on almost every fleet navigating the Great Lakes.”

Steamship Interior


I became very interested in ship building in the Thumb when I found that Caseville’s Frances Crawford built a schooner the Frank Crawford on the Pigeon River in 1861. See the post Ship Building in Caseville to find out more.  


Steamship Alpena2


Fr. Edward J. Dowling was a noted Great Lakes historian, an associate professor of engineering graphics at the University of Detroit, and a special lecturer in marine travel and commercial shipping on the Great Lakes. He authored Lakers of World, published by the University of Detroit Press in 1967 and numerous journal article on Great Lakes shipping.


Ships depicted are the City of Alpena from the Dowling Collection.

ThumbWind-Mercantile-banner