Improving the Odds: Using Climate-Readiness Planning to Reduce the Impacts of Climate Change on the Great Lakes Ecosystem
There have been many successes in Great Lakes restoration and protection recently. President Obama has committed $5 billion over five years, with $475 million committed by Congress in the first year, to fund regional ecological restoration activities. A process is underway to update the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. The Great Lakes Water Compact provides a mechanism to protect water levels from overwithdrawal. The potential for a sustained stream of money to fight invasive species, clean up toxic hot spots and address restoration priorities through this year’s introduction of the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act.
As we celebrate these successes we must also look toward the future. Over the past few decades, we have measured documented environmental changes such as thinning of lake ice, migration of species northward, extreme flooding, and warmer air temperatures on record. Left unabated, changes to our climate and environment could compromise the work we have done.
As demonstrated in this report, being ready for and coping with the inevitable effects of climate change—an endeavor referred to as climate change adaptation or climate-readiness—is emerging as the next step for Great Lakes protection.
To provide the best possible chance for conserving these resources in a rapidly changing climate and in the context of other stressors, it is essential that managers, planners, and policy makers have the ability to both identify what we need to do differently in the future, as well as which existing strategies and activities continue to make sense from a climate adaptation perspective.
This report, Improving the Odds: Using Climate-Readiness Planning to Reduce the Impacts of Climate Change on the Great Lakes Ecosystem, features current climate-ready practices, policies, and tools that help build adaptive capacity and lead the way for adaptation. The journey takes you through the Apostle Islands National Park, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Michigan’s wildlife, and the biodiverse Lake Ontario.