Map would be helpful
The Aug. 19 editorial, “Great Lakes’ Water Level Not Rising,” rejects a claim that no scientist is making. I’m confident that scientists who study the Great Lakes are well aware of the NOAA Great Lakes water level data. The function of the Graham Sustainability Institute map (www.graham.umich.edu/glaac/great-lakes-atlas) that you refer to is to provide socioeconomic and basic climate data to Great Lakes counties from Minnesota to New York. The climate data presented are very basic: summer temperature (average), winter temperature (average), spring precipitation (total) and the summer drought index. If you will look at the map, you will see that lake levels are not discussed.
The primary purpose of the interactive map is to summarize data regarding the economy, infrastructure and populations that are climate-vulnerable. For example, under the economy tab, farming, timber and tourism are the three most climate-vulnerable areas of employment identified by Michigan. If you click on Seneca County, you will see that the county is rated as least vulnerable primarily because only about 11 percent of employment is tourism-related, compared with, say, Erie County, which is rated as very vulnerable because tourism employment is more than 25 percent. Seneca County climate data show clear changes, comparing the past 30 years with the previous 30 years. Summers and winters are warmer, springs are wetter and summers are drier. Having these data summarized in one place should prove very useful to farmers, businesses, health and protective services and community leaders.
I don’t know where journalists such as yourself have found those fabled “climate change alarmists” that one hears about on talk radio, but I see no evidence of them at the University of Michigan-or any other research lab, for that matter. It wouldn’t hurt to consult with the highly reputed environmental scientists at Heidelberg University’s National Center for Water Quality Research before editorializing on a Great Lakes science issue. More generally, I recommend the philosopher Bertrand Russell’s observation for everyone struggling to grasp how science works: “The kernel of the scientific outlook is the refusal to regard our own desires, tastes and interests as affording a key to the understanding of the world.” (The Place of Science in a Liberal Education).
Daryl Close, Sycamore