River Talk

Climate Change threatens Great Lakes Parks: Is "reimagining" the parks part of the answer?

This seems to be the week to write about national parks in transition.  Wednesday's main post concerns changing demographics and the national parks as a national, system-wide issue and offered one local solution.  Today, I'll offer you an article on threats to a regional system, and a potential "global" response.

A recent news article which was referenced on Twitter points out myriad subtle ways that climate change threatens parks around the Great Lakes.  A shorter ice season, changed animal habitat associated with warming, increased wave activity from changing hydrologic cycles may not individually add up to much.  But cumulative effects are likely to alter dramatically the parks that currently attract some 4 million visitors per year.

One response, which may foretell far-reaching shifts in public attitudes, is to declare the Great Lakes a "commons."  This is precisely what a recent gathering of diverse advocates did, hoping to draw attention to the vast importance of the Great Lakes themselves as storehouses of freshwater and the source of highly diverse aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.  

I see two significant developments perhaps coming from the commons declaration.  First, a diverse set of advocacy organizations, each of which focuses on different components of the broad complexity of the region, can have a broader impact than single groups.  Second, this coalition may succeed in raising the visibility of the Lakes, helping us all understand how important they are to all of us and belonging to all of us.  

What we all hold in common, we all take care of.

  The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and not necessarily
  of the Institute on the Environment/University of Minnesota.