Headed to Paris or watching from home, here are some great primer reports to help explain why climate change is a Great Lakes concern.
"While the focus of the summit was greenhouse gas emissions, climate change as a general topic is a big deal for the Great Lakes. We at Waterkeeper have talked a lot this summer about heavy rains in Toronto and pollution from the city’s aging sewage system. Because of shifting climate and weather patterns, we can expect to see more bypasses and sewage overflows in the future." -- Krystyn Tully, Waterkeeper's Vice-President
"Evidence developed over the past decade has strengthened and extended the confidence that climate change and associated impacts are valid concerns (see Figure 1). The magnitude of changes presently occurring and projected to occur in our climate raises questions about not only the extent of their impact but also our ability to adapt, not only globally but more specifically in the Great Lakes region." -- Report of the Great Lakes Water Quality Board to the International Joint Commission
"In general, the climate of the Great Lakes region will grow warmer and probably drier during the twentyfirst century. Climate models predict that by the end of the century, temperature in the region will warm by 5 to 12°F (3 to 7°C) in winter, and by 5 to 20°F (3 to 11°C) in summer. Nighttime temperatures are likely to warm more than daytime temperatures, and extreme heat will be more common. Annual average precipitation levels are unlikely to change, but the seasonal distribution is likely to vary greatly, increasing in winter and decreasing in summer." -- The Union of Concerned Scientists and The Ecological Society of America
"The Great Lakes are the economic engine of the region: 40% of the Canadian and 15% of the US Gross Domestic Product originates within the basin. Around 300 of the nation’s Fortune 1000 firms are located here. The Great Lakes directly impact the lives of 35 million people." -- International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR)
"Extreme weather events have already begun to stress infrastructure in Ontario, and will continue to do so, even in the best-case GHG mitigation scenario. The resulting damage to personal property and/or human health may create legal liabilities for the provincial government, most likely in the form of negligence lawsuits." -- Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Climate Change
"Water infrastructure for flood control, navigation, and other purposes is susceptible to climate change impacts and other forces because the designs are based upon historical patterns of precipitation and stream flow, which may no longer be appropriate guides in a changing climate. Changing land use and expanding urbanization are reducing water infiltration into the soil and increasing surface runoff. These changes exacerbate impacts caused by increased precipitation intensity. As more surface area is converted to impervious surfaces and extreme precipitation events have intensified, stormwater systems are being overtaxed leading to system failures including combined sewer overflows and water treatment plant shutdowns." -- Great Lakes Integrated Sciences + Assessments (GLISA)