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Report: Global Warming Putting Great Lakes in “Hot Water”

November 28, 2007

Columbus, OH – Lower Great Lakes water levels and increased demands for diverting this water are two likely consequences of global warming, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation.

The Great Lakes are in “hot water” because of climate change, the report by Molly Flanagan says, and things could get worse unless Ohio and other states take action to protect them. According to her report, climate change threatens to lower Great Lakes levels by as much as three feet in some places. Flanagan says that could do major economic damage to states like Ohio, putting the heat on state lawmakers to ratify the Great Lakes Compact, which protects water quality and quantity in the lakes.

"The threats are real. But they're also manageable, and we have an unprecedented opportunity to act now to protect our Great Lakes."

She also points to another threat: Global warming will make droughts more likely in the American South and West, increasing pressure to divert water from the Great Lakes. Of the eight states involved in the Great Lakes Compact, Ohio and Wisconsin are the only two without proposals before their state legislature.

Jim Wentz with the National Wildlife Federation in Ohio says part of the solution has to come from Congress, in the form of bills that cut greenhouse gas pollutants. He says quick action is vital for the lakes and other natural resources in the state.

"Natural resources are important to people in Ohio. Many people here enjoy watching wildlife, camping, canoeing and the outdoors. We’re one of the top states in the nation for the number of hunters and anglers."

H.R. 1590, the "Safe Climate Act," and H.R. 620, the "Climate Stewardship Act," are before the House and would target greenhouse gas emissions. Wentz says his group is looking for more Congressional co-sponsors, including Ohio Reps. Betty Sutton, Marcy Kaptur and Zack Space. They all are targeted because of their past support for key Great Lakes and energy bills.

The full report is available at www.nwf.org.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OH