National Geographic, increasingly devoted to climate propaganda rather than scientific curiosity and wonder, tells us that bad humans are killing the Great Lakes. And while we probably don’t have to spell it out for you, it goes C-l-i-m-a-t-e c-h-a-n-g-e. According to their Environment Executive Editor, Robert Kunzig, “These days the threats are more global and daunting than in the good old days of burning rivers.” Including “climate change, which is warming the lakes, diminishing their winter ice cover, and decimating the tiny plankton at the base of the food web. More than 180 invasive species, like zebra mussels and sea lampreys, have disrupted the food web from top to bottom.” Please stop emitting all those zebra mussels from your tailpipe.
Another feature on the climate-driven demise of the Great Lakes, which you’ll find in the December issue of National Geographic though by a different author, Tim Folger, says the lakes are the lungs of the world thanks to all the diatoms. Which are shrinking due to climate change, and since the Great Lakes hold more than a fifth of the world’s surface freshwater and thus of the diatoms, well, kaff thud we all go.
We also get extreme weather, which you saw coming rhetorically if not out your window: “with our ongoing emission of greenhouse gases, we’ve even managed to reengineer the weather over vast stretches of the Great Lakes watershed, increasing the frequency of severe storms.” Mind you this piece doesn’t seem to blame the invasive species on climate change, and points to fertilizer runoff including for biofuels (oops) as having revived the dreaded algal blooms “so large they can be seen from space.” But still, climate change gets marquee billing.
Then there’s a Canadian angle and not just because the Great Lakes are partly in Canada. The story features “Andrew Bramburger, a lake ecologist now with Environment and Climate Change Canada” who actually learned to surf on Lake Erie. “Bramburger and other researchers have charted an alarming trend stretching back 115 years: Individual diatoms in the Great Lakes are getting smaller. The shrinkage seems to be connected with climate change. As the lakes warm, the diatoms sink, which reduces their ability to harvest light.”
So time for some wild speculation labeled science: “‘This is something that’s going to affect the Great Lakes as we lose our snow and ice cover and as our winters get warmer but also drier and windier,’ Bramburger said. ‘Drier and windier means we’re going to start losing snow on the ice, and as it gets warmer, we’re just going to start losing ice. In the Great Lakes we see large algal blooms of a species called Aulacoseira. It’s a big diatom, and it likes to be on the bottom of thick, snow-covered ice. If we start losing that, we’ll probably lose one of the really important components of the food web. The thing I’m always struck by is that we don’t understand winter, but we’re losing it. It’s a race to figure out what happens in winter before there’s no winter to figure out.’”
Note here that it’s not whether our winters get warmer, drier and windier but as they do. The models being unanimous except that, well, OK, they’re not: “we don’t understand winter”. But “we’re losing it” and it will have exactly the effects we’re speculating about.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, one problem with climate scare stories that get more than a few paragraphs long is that they start to blurt out inconvenient truths. For instance the Folger piece starts out with the usual stuff about the delicate balance of the lakes being suddenly disrupted. But further down it admits something surprising even to us. “It was only about 3,000 years ago, though, that the lakes’ current contours and drainage systems evolved, which makes them significantly younger than the oldest Egyptian pyramids.”
So they weren’t even there during some of the most abundant times in the Holocene, never mind earlier. But back to their eternal beauty and endangered status: “Nothing on Earth rivals the lakes—they’re the world’s largest freshwater system, a gift from one age on the cusp of momentous change to another. They’re connected; one flows into the next.” A gift from one age to another. Uh, thanks, Pleistocene. No wait. Holocene. But that’s the one we’re in.
Let’s take this gift back to the rhetorical returns counter. And the magazine too. Because in case you’re not scared yet, the Kunzig piece tells us the destruction of the lakes is a disaster because “These days, old industrial cities like Duluth or Buffalo are mentioned as places that might be reborn as havens for climate change refugees from places like Alabama, where I live now.” All those mansion owners on the US south coast are soon going to abandon their properties and run desperately for homes in Duluth.
Sure they are. As soon as the lakes empty out, fill up, die, bloom and do anything bad you can think of thanks to climate change.
Excuse us. We bought National Geographic thinking it was scientific propaganda. But we got science fiction instead. Can we have our money back?