Article written by David Sweetnam, Executive Director of Georgian Bay
I have a dream. The waters of Georgian Bay are once again teeming with healthy fish. With the eradication of zebra and quagga mussels, sea lamprey and other invasive species, our native flora and fauna have once again settled into their niches and the ecosystem is thriving. The fish, chasing prey into the bays, once again cause the water levels to rise and we have all seen the Lake Sturgeon eating the cranberries along the re-naturalized shoreline.
The fish are once again edible…far from the bad-old-days when toxic air pollution from antiquated fossil fuel burning power plants across the ocean fouled the waters of Georgian Bay and kept pregnant and nursing mothers from eating any fish. Nasty chemicals from household and personal care products and industrial processes are no longer dumped into the water to pass through inadequate water treatment facilities.
The visual blight of wires strung across thousands of miles of wilderness leaking significant percentages of electromagnetic radiation is gone, now replaced by efficient energy storage capacity linked to clean energy sources located close to population centres.
Our mandatory zero-emission electric vehicles now scoot around the region autonomously logging more miles with fewer accidents. Solar recharging networks energize our automobiles with abundant efficiently captured light energy. Pipeline deconstruction in North America is now completed and all of the environmental impairments they accumulated have been cleaned up.
These new energy and transportation technologies have reversed the effects of climate change following two malodourous centuries of collective maleficence that proved costly in terms of lives, property, the economy and the ecosystems. The air is once again clean and next summer’s 2116 Olympics are being held in Beijing without the health concerns expressed a century ago because of historic poor air quality leading up to the last Olympics there in 2008.
Clean-up investments have now been completed throughout the Great Lakes repairing the damages done by short-sighted generations and industries using archaic accounting systems that ignored the harms they inflicted on the environment and passed onto future generations. Industry driven best management practices and de-listing criteria for so called “Areas of Concern” undertaken early in the last century proved insufficient to make real, lasting improvements. The outcry from the public over recurring losses of drinking water due to toxic algae blooms throughout the Great Lakes region finally forced governments to re-examine policies, enforce source treatment and remove and treat contaminated sediments in order to re-establish ecosystems that could actually improve water quality. Our countries can now finally look towards investing in the future to promote a new sustainable economy.
Canada’s vision to procure the world’s spent nuclear fuel supply has paid dividends reviving its world leading status in radio-isotope manufacturing and also in the burgeoning heavy element synthesis markets. New elements and alloys are being created for the first time in the history of the known universe, transforming materials science in every manufacturing process and enabling the state of the art femto-electronics field. The deep geologic repository is now almost empty and new sources of raw materials are being captured from near orbit asteroids at the Martian processing facility.
The foresight of the International Joint Commission in its century old 2018 study of the Great Lakes Protection Network was in large measure due to the leadership of Georgian Bay Forever, a grass roots charity focused on protecting water in Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes.
The Great Lakes Protection Network is a coordinated system of flow attenuating structures that use accurate predictive models to anticipate future Great Lakes water levels and provide enough flow modification in their connecting channels to compensate for climate impacts. This ensures that healthy historic water level ranges are maintained throughout the entire system. This protects the environment and ensures that the economic region’s inexpensive and non-carbon marine transportation advantage is maintained protecting the millions of jobs and families who live in this prosperous region.
After a 2012 study found that structural intervention could address all of the expected extreme water level conditions anticipated from early climate models, new research was completed to create an engineering model of what possible climate resilient solutions might look like. This visionary engineering study was the first of its kind in the Great Lakes to incorporate climate change impacts as an integral component of the design requirements. Until that time, previously engineered structures were little more than speed bumps of rocks in the river – inadequate to address the volatility of the past century’s exceptional storms and droughts.
And then I wake up.
Georgian Bay Forever is actually funding this engineering study this year, but will it lead to the world changing? I have a dream.
You have a unique opportunity to help realize the dream. Please support Georgian Bay Forever by making a donation.
The Engineering Study is due to be released in 2016. It seeks a long-term flow-attenuating engineered structural solution for our waters that will be flexible, viable and navigable for the next 50 to 100 years. We believe it must also be innovative, climate resilient and responsive over a range of climate scenarios. Further, it must be ecosystem friendly, with minimal impact on biodiversity and habitat, and involve very little in-water blasting or dredging during construction. As well, it must reflect integrated, systems thinking that takes into consideration the entire Great Lakes St. Lawrence water system, so that any solution we identify is mindful of both upstream and downstream needs and interests.
About Georgian Bay Forever – Our mission is to provide scientific research and education to enhance, protect and restore the waters of Georgian Bay as part of the Great Lakes to ensure that the waters of Georgian Bay are healthy and thriving for future generations.