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Study: Global Warming Damaging Great Lakes

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Lake Michigan (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Lake Michigan (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (WBBM) – Environmental activists have released a report that claims global warming is inflicting damage upon the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, other national parks lining the Great Lakes — and the region around them.

The authors found that temperatures in the past decade on the Great Lakes have averaged 1.6 degrees higher than they did the entire 20th Century. The report says that the warmer Great Lakes result not just in less winter ice, which means more shoreline erosion, but an uptick in botulism outbreaks as well.

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The study finds that today’s rainstorms are heavier, winds are stronger and that wildlife is disappearing because it can no longer cope.

“The changes now take place in decades, without giving nature the time to adapt,” said former Dunes Supt. Dale Engquist, who is now the president of the Chicago Wilderness Trust. “What we need, therefore, is for us to adapt by changing our practices to halt or slow global climate change.”

Engquist and the study’s author, Rocky Mountain Climate Organization President Stephen Saunders, both said that if left unchecked, temperatures by the end of the century will rise an average of eight degrees — giving it a climate equivalent to the climate today in Gainesville, Fla.

Natural Resources Defense Council staff attorney Tom Smart said that if environmental consciousness fails to move you, perhaps the effects on the area’s economy will. He said the Indiana Dunes generate $200 million a year in spending by visitors. He said continued beach erosion and other problems could endanger that.

The authors say Congress should sanction stronger protections or get out of the way of regulatory agencies.

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