The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes A master reporter s landmark work of contemporary ecology The Great Lakes hold percent of the world s freshwater and they provide food work and weekend fun for tens of millions of Americans Yet

  • Title: The Death and Life of the Great Lakes
  • Author: Dan Egan
  • ISBN: 9780393246438
  • Page: 312
  • Format: Hardcover
  • A master reporter s landmark work of contemporary ecology.The Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world s freshwater, and they provide food, work, and weekend fun for tens of millions of Americans Yet they are under threat as never before.In a work of narrative reporting in the vein of Rachel Carson and Elizabeth Kolbert, prize winning reporter Dan Egan delivers an eye opeA master reporter s landmark work of contemporary ecology.The Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world s freshwater, and they provide food, work, and weekend fun for tens of millions of Americans Yet they are under threat as never before.In a work of narrative reporting in the vein of Rachel Carson and Elizabeth Kolbert, prize winning reporter Dan Egan delivers an eye opening portrait of our nation s greatest natural resource as it faces ecological calamity He tells the story of the St Lawrence Seaway and the Chicago ship canal good ideas in their time that have had horrendous consequences He explains how invasive species such as Asian carp, sea lamprey, and zebra mussels have decimated native species and endanger the entire United States And he examines new risks, such as unsafe drinking water, the threat of water diversions, and dead zones that cover hundreds of square miles of water while showing how the Great Lakes can be restored and preserved for generations to come.

    One thought on “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes”

    1. For years my mother has refused to drink tap water claiming that zebra mussels have affected the taste of her water supply. Lake Michigan is part of the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater source in the world, and to me, the water still tastes crystal clear, until this past summer when it did not, and I reluctantly joined her in drinking filtered water. While zebra mussels are only one issue affecting the future of the Great Lakes today, the species is hardly the only living being or environment [...]

    2. The five Great Lakes of North America are one of the world's great treasures. Their surface area is larger than the United Kingdom, they contain one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply, and the lakes are home to thousands of different species. But while the surfaces of the lakes seem calm and peaceful, they have been buffeted by a series of environmental crises over the past century.Egan's narrative focuses not on pollutants, but the parade of invasive species which wreaked havoc on the nati [...]

    3. Dan Egan's book The Death and Life of the Great Lakes was distressing to read. I know these lakes. I have lived near the Great Lakes for almost 50 years. I grew up along the Niagara River and have lived 40 years in Michigan--including seven years living near Lake Michigan, three years so close I heard the sound of the waves day and night. I have seen the lakes die and become reborn and die again. I remember in the 1970s when the water at the base of Niagara Falls foamed with brown-yellow froth f [...]

    4. If you care about the environment and sustainability, you must read this book. Even if you live thousands of miles away from these North American freshwater marvels, this book makes the case why we should all care about the impacts of invasive species, eutrophication, and the larger issues of climate change and access to fresh water. A phenomenal work of reportage and science writing.

    5. “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”—Joni MitchellThe Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. They and area lakes and rivers have been repeatedly poisoned for the last couple hundred years, as if water supplies were somehow permanently resilient and endless. They are neither. When I swam in Lake Michigan in the seventies, for a couple summers I had to wade through a sludge of alewives spread across the shoreline. On the other hand, during that time you [...]

    6. This book was much more interesting than I anticipated. I live on Lake Erie, so when I saw the book at the library I picked it up.The Great Lakes are not really lakes, they are inland fresh water seas. If you’ve ever stood on the shore of one, you know what I’m talking about. They are beautiful (yes, even Lake Erie isw, thanks to the clean water act.) I recently saw Lake Michigan, where it just about meets up with Lake Superior and I was absolutely stunned by the beauty.The fresh water on th [...]

    7. Until a year ago, I had lived all of my then-22 years of life along the same long, connected body of water. From the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland to the Saint Lawrence River in Montreal, this watershed is intimately familiar to me, my lifelong companion. And it’s dying. I’ve heard this book compared to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and while I’m wary to jump on board with such a comparison, I don’t think it’s an impossibility. Egan writes with a similar urgency and clarity of pu [...]

    8. A very good and highly detailed book that looks at the problems that invasive species have caused in our Great Lakes and what has been done to try and combat these problems. Some interesting issues include the fact that the Erie Canal caused the first invasive species problem, how Chicago destroyed a natural barrier to such species, how the Clean Water Act backfired and caused so many problems due to a loophole that allowed ballast to be dumped into the Lakes, how phosphorus killed Lake Erie and [...]

    9. Okay, what do Asian carp, sea lamprey, homo sapiens, zebra mussels and climate change have in common? They are all destroying the mighty Great Lakes. Ouch! The five Great Lakes are one of the true wonders of the world, but we are continuously throwing wicked curve balls at this amazing water system. A system we all take for granted, much like our great oceans. Dan Egan, a prize winning journalist, lays it all out here: the history, the canal systems, the invasive species, the various battles, wh [...]

    10. The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan gives the reader a good picture of the Great Lakes and the troubles which they face today. I was impressed with the research and care which Egan took in writing this book and found it easy to understand for a non-scientist.Egan describes the Great Lakes as seen by the first Europeans as being majestic inland oceans surrounded by pristine forests. He goes on to illustrate their importance in the world today:Most all the water on the planet—some [...]

    11. Early into this book my mind constantly drifted to my vacation home where today I am stocking bluegill and rainbow trout into my 1+ acre pond, supplied by over 12 natural springs and 2 pristine flowing creeks. The Great lakes contain 1/5 of the fresh water in the world, but how fresh is the water? The history and current day analysis are fully discussed in this book, which in part is a suspense filled “whodunit”. Much of the biological turbulence and natural disorder that has occurred within [...]

    12. This is an excellent read on the Great Lakes and water in the USA. It is a call to heal our waters before it is too late.

    13. My first 23 years were spent around, on, or in Lake Michigan, one of the "best" of the Great Lakes. How true it is that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, as was proved to the fishing industry on this lake. One time the beaches were so polluted with dead alewives, the smell forced everyone to stay away. My dad loved fishing for trout, coho, and chinook salmon. I have been reading about the Great Lakes all my life, so winning this book in a Giveaway was better than winning at the cas [...]

    14. Journalist Dan Egan's The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is a dense, detailed but fascinating look at where I hang my hat, on the shores of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. I lived through much of what Egan writes of here. When I was growing up in the late 70;s and early 80's, Lake Erie had recovered from the algal blooms that had choked it and the nasty pollution that caused the Cuyahoga to burn. Still, I heard about these incidents. Just like I'd heard my father moan about the decline and [...]

    15. A few chapters toward the beginning moved a bit too slowly for me, but the rest of the book was great. The first half of the book should have been subtitled: What are Ballasts and How Can They Affect the Health of Lakes and Even Threaten the Lives of Humans? The short and interesting answer is that boats are built with areas that can be filled with water, ballast water, which is taken in upon takeoff and dumped when the boat fills up with cargo. If the water that was taken in the boat comes from [...]

    16. This wonderful and timely book is a great read about a timely subject. The writing is snappy and engaging, and can transform sometimes fairly technical discussions into a captivating study. What emerges clearly from this book is the critical importance of a much more sophisticated public conversation about the health of the Great Lakes at a time where there are proposal to reduce federal funding for crucial ecological restorations by as much as 97%.The Great Lakes have already repeatedly suffere [...]

    17. This was a book that wasn't on my radar until it came up as a monthly read in my one of my book clubs. That's kind of surprising considering that I literally live on the shores of Lake Superior. I loved this book AND it scared the crap out of me. I have lived in Michigan my whole life and one of the reasons I decided to live where I do is because of the beauty of the lake and the fact that I can afford to live on the most northern of the Great Lakes. Their health is important to me. The lamprey, [...]

    18. “This story picks up after the Cuyahoga River caught fire in 1969,” said Dan Egan, speaking to a surprisingly packed, standing-room-only crowd at Milwaukee’s largest indie bookshop on Friday night. The Cuyahoga River winds through downtown Cleveland before flowing into Lake Erie. Although it caught on fire a dozen times in a hundred years, the blaze of 1969 upset people enough that the incident transformed from an easy joke into the beginning of the Clean Water Act and related environmenta [...]

    19. "Like generations of the past, we know the damage we are doing to the lakes, and we know how to begin to stop it; unlike generations of the past, we aren't doing it."For those of us who love the Great Lakes, this is a very disturbing read. But the situation should be setting off alarm bells for everyone. The stakes are high: there isn't much fresh water in the world, the Great Lakes are the largest system we have, and the lakes are in trouble (for a variety of reasons). We need to take care of t [...]

    20. I just stumbled across this book while searching for library books and thought, hey, this looks like it could be interesting & teach me something new. Which it was, and it did. I was kind of in a constant state of panic reading this book as I learned about everything humans have done to destroy the Great Lakes ecosystem. I learned so much about canals and locks, ballast water, marine life and Great Lakes history that I never would have guessed I'd be interested in, but I was. Really, really [...]

    21. Best book I have ever read on invasive species, as well as a fantastic and entertaining adventure on the history of the Great Lakes.I thought I knew a lot about these lakes, nearby which I spent my college years. I learned so much in just a few hours! Why is Chicago where it is? Why the fires on Lake Erie were only a very minor aspect of environmental pollution. How climate change, just in this decade, has both raised and lowered lake elevation by 3 feet in one year.Such an enjoyable and meaning [...]

    22. This is a Very Important Book. The sheer amount of time and research that went into this book is mind-boggling. The writing is engaging and without the hyperbole frequently found in popular science writing. EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS. Mandatory reading for adult American humans. Read it.

    23. Wow!! Fascinating and disturbing. I had intended to skim it. Instead I read every word. Well written and well researched with an amazing history of mankind's horrible treatment of these beautiful lakes. It should be required reading for politicians.

    24. As someone who grew up and lives near Lake Michigan, I found this to be an extraordinary work. Thoroughly researched and written clearly, this is a must read for anyone who loves the Great Lakes. The book details the fragile ecosystem and other challenges of the largest freshwater system in the world. As someone who enjoys the beauty and majesty of the lakes, it is difficult to imagine the struggles that occur under the water. The book begins by explaining that with the construction of the Wella [...]

    25. An excellent telling of much of the ecological history of the Great Lakes in relation to human interference and invasive species. Egan covers a wide range of subtopics ranging from how shipping on the lakes works to the future strife coming over drinking water rights in the areas that straddle what he calls the other great continental divide, what is often an unrecognizable hump that separates the drainage basins of the Great Lakes from the Mississippi River. The author spent many years covering [...]

    26. Wow! This was such a great book and I couldn't put it down. Living not far from Lake Erie and reading what is going on with invasive species and the pollution made me shudder. While some of the topics such as the zebra mussel have made the news, most of the other disasters were something I had never heard about. Chicago's sewage issues literally made me sick. We really need more controls to keep these wonders of the earth. Let's hope this book makes a lot of headway with the powers that be.

    27. A fabulous book filled with so much information that I think I will have to read it again. Told us about the need to take more effort to preserve our water. There is a history of neglect because we have taken it for granted. We can no longer do that if we want our children and future generations to have water to survive with. How many people have no idea the effort we must put forth to come out the winner in this battle.

    28. This book is fascinating! It reminds me of one of those documentaries you stumble across on a marginally-familiar topic where you're completely drawn in, unable to stop watching.The book dives deep (pun intended) into a number of somewhat technical (but highly readable) Great Lakes-related topics. It presents interconnected essays of sorts on a number of concerns and crises affecting life in, on, and connected to HOME & S. Sea captains, invasive species, climate change, politics, and well-in [...]

    29. Oh my gosh! It's been a while since I swished left on my Kindle and was SO DISAPPOINTED to find I'd finished a book. In his acknowledgements, author Dan Egan credits his editor with pushing him "to elevate the writing and structure of the book for a wider audience, one much less familiar with the lakes." That would be yours truly. I may have been born in Indiana, but I haven't seen Lake Ontario in fifteen years or Lake Michigan in 36 years, or the other Great Lakes *ever*, but I loved this book. [...]

    30. Dan Egan tells how invasive species such as the sea lamprey, alewives and zebra and quagga mussels have destroyed native populations of Great Lakes species and caused problems such as toxic algae blooms which threaten drinking water supplies on Lake Erie. The chapter that angered me the most described how trout from the west coast were placed into the lakes because they are more exciting to catch for fishermen than native species. One unintended positive outcome from this is that the nonnative t [...]

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