Hadrian's Reviews > The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan
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bookshelves: environment-nature, nonfiction, usa

The five Great Lakes of North America are one of the world's great treasures. Their surface area is larger than the United Kingdom, they contain one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply, and the lakes are home to thousands of different species. But while the surfaces of the lakes seem calm and peaceful, they have been buffeted by a series of environmental crises over the past century.

Egan's narrative focuses not on pollutants, but the parade of invasive species which wreaked havoc on the native ecosystem, starting with lampreys tearing up the lake trout in the 1930s, until a selective poison wiped them out by the 1950s. Then the alewives began to take over, until two non-native species were introduced to keep their numbers down. Two species of mussel, introduced from freighters' ballast, began to clog up the lake floor, until two native species developed adaptations to feed on them in turn.

While Egan praises the efforts of biologists, researchers, and local activists, he warns that the lakes still face even further challenges - how Chicago's decision to send its sewage down through the Mississippi drainage basin abets further invasive species, rapid fluctuations in water levels, or hypoxic zones festering with algal blooms.

The result is an uncommonly-well researched book, and any minor flaws in presentation would not detract from the depth and range of the story it tells. Speaking as someone who's lived near these lakes for all his childhood, thank you.
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Reading Progress

April 1, 2017 – Shelved
April 1, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
Started Reading
April 15, 2017 – Shelved as: environment-nature
April 15, 2017 – Shelved as: nonfiction
April 15, 2017 – Shelved as: usa
April 15, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Jaidee (new)

Jaidee Our country home is right on Lake Huron. I must get this. Thanks Hadrian !!


message 2: by Gavin (new) - added it

Gavin As an aside, my reading is varied, but Hadrian seems to be everywhere before me. Kudos to him.


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