07/22/2011 11:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Green Comic Strip: Neil Wagner's 'What On Earth'

The Not-So-Great Lakes
By Neil Wagner

Neil Wagner writes:
The Great Lakes — Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and, Superior (HOMES) — boast the most fresh water of any place on Earth outside of the polar ice caps, according to the EPA. HOMES is host to 21% of the Earth's water supply and 84% of North America's surface fresh water, the planet's biggest such system. That does sound Great.

But our impact on Superior is inferior. Our disregard for Erie is, yes, eerie! Our management of Michigan is... OK, I went too far. Still, when you get right down to it, the effect that our relentless climate-warming efforts has on the Great Lakes is not great at all.

Last fall, Don Scavia of the Environmental Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan spoke about global warming's impact on HOMES at Chicago's Field Museum. He described how plant growing seasons in the area are shifting, storms are getting more intense, ice cover is lessening... it's not a pretty picture.

And then there's the prospect of the Great Lakes becoming a dead zone, so oxygen-depleted that nothing will live in them. What will we call them then? The Vacant HOMES?

Read and hear more on the topic from WBEZ in Chicago.

Fun facts about the Great Lakes from the EPA.

Neil Wagner is the Creative Director, illustrator, and creator of the "What on Earth?" comic strip and blog appearing on NPR's ScienceFriday.com

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