I waited for weeks to get my hands on this book as it seemed like something “right up my alley”, but when I finally did, my schedule prevented me from completing it. After acquiring it a second time, I was finally able to finish it, and mightily pleased I did!

The Death and Life of the Great LakesThe Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Most of us are aware of the growing problems with our environment but many of us don’t feel a sense of urgency about it. The Death and Life of the Great Lake sheds light on the severity of these issues as they pertain to the Great Lakes.

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is an eye-opening description of the damage caused to the world’s largest fresh-water system at the hands of commercial shipping. It all started with the opening up of shipping channels into Lake Erie via the Erie Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway. “Hitchhikers” aboard foreign vessels, primarily through ballast water, have infiltrated the fresh-water system and taken over causing a detrimental “domino effect.”

Some bold measures were taken to control the predators, but the motivation seems to have been to increase sport fishing instead of restoring the balance that was there beforehand. Nevertheless, Mother Nature has stepped in to take back control and slowly but surely, things are returning to their original state with the re-emergence of the Lake’s Trout and other native species.

I believe that humans should just cease to meddle with “Mother Nature’s” works, as it has been shown repeatedly that she will eventually mend the situation. Mankind should not be so arrogant as to think that he is above her, after all, she’s dealt with perpetual catastrophes for billions of years, while man has only been around about 200,000 at the very most.

Dan Egan seems to have devoted many years of his life to the future of the Great Lakes and his heart is in it. You can sense the love of the subject matter as you go through these pages.

Reading The Death and Life of the Great Lakes was a learning experience, it’s one of the most enjoyable of my reads this year.

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The Death and Life of the Great Lakes (Hardcover)

A Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist
Winner of the J. Anthony Lukas Award

A landmark work of science, history and reporting on the past, present and imperiled future of the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes―Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior―hold 20 percent of the world’s supply of surface fresh water and provide sustenance, work and recreation for tens of millions of Americans. But they are under threat as never before, and their problems are spreading across the continent. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is prize-winning reporter Dan Egan’s compulsively readable portrait of an ecological catastrophe happening right before our eyes, blending the epic story of the lakes with an examination of the perils they face and the ways we can restore and preserve them for generations to come.

For thousands of years the pristine Great Lakes were separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the roaring Niagara Falls and from the Mississippi River basin by a “sub-continental divide.” Beginning in the late 1800s, these barriers were circumvented to attract oceangoing freighters from the Atlantic and to allow Chicago’s sewage to float out to the Mississippi. These were engineering marvels in their time―and the changes in Chicago arrested a deadly cycle of waterborne illnesses―but they have had horrendous unforeseen consequences. Egan provides a chilling account of how sea lamprey, zebra and quagga mussels and other invaders have made their way into the lakes, decimating native species and largely destroying the age-old ecosystem. And because the lakes are no longer isolated, the invaders now threaten water intake pipes, hydroelectric dams and other infrastructure across the country.

Egan also explores why outbreaks of toxic algae stemming from the overapplication of farm fertilizer have left massive biological “dead zones” that threaten the supply of fresh water. He examines fluctuations in the levels of the lakes caused by manmade climate change and overzealous dredging of shipping channels. And he reports on the chronic threats to siphon off Great Lakes water to slake drier regions of America or to be sold abroad.

In an age when dire problems like the Flint water crisis or the California drought bring ever more attention to the indispensability of safe, clean, easily available water, The Death and the Life of the Great Lakes is a powerful paean to what is arguably our most precious resource, an urgent examination of what threatens it and a convincing call to arms about the relatively simple things we need to do to protect it.

20 illustrations, maps


List Price:$27.95 USD
New From:$19.00 USD In Stock
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