The Great Lakes are one of North America’s true wonders, comprising 21 percent of all the planet’s freshwater. They have played a significant role in the shaping of American society, namely by means of freighting and transportation made possible by the construction of the Erie Canal, opening the world to middle North America. Even today, the Great Lakes are a major mode of transport for bulk cargo. They supply fresh drinking water for tens of millions of people, and boundless outdoor recreation, including SCUBA diving, hiking, boating, parasailing…the list goes on. Their depths hold a cache of shipwrecks that serve as historical relics to America’s past. They are valuable in many ways to all of us.
Like many places in the world, the health of the Great Lakes is under some serious threats, including water pollution and invasive species. Just these two issues alone can dramatically impact the ecosystems in and surrounding the lakes, leading to the potential for job and industry loss, not to mention important habitat for thousands of plant and animal species. Check out what one group, the Nature Conservancy, is doing to raise awareness of their plight and make changes for the better.
Photo via NASA Goddard Photo and Video