Planet in Peril (PinP) "Where science gets respect:" A woman prepares a meal of weed leaves for her family as a hunger crisis continues to grip South Sudan. Photo: UNICEF/Oatway
It is too easy for many of us living in Canada to take our wonderful waters, our blood of life, for granted.Reading the grim message of what we can expect,(Save lake or live by 'open-air sewer',Wpg Free Press,24 Feb.) I must ask, "Has Lake Winnipeg gone beyond the tipping point, and now,is it too late to recover?" Science has long identified the source of the problems with the Lake and many other Canadian lakes and waters experiencing massive eutrophication. For more than 40 years, study after study, arrived at a consensus: over-fertilization of our fresh waters.In 1974,co-author of "The Algal Bowl," scientist John R. Vallentyne predicted that we would be living with an environmental disaster he called the algal bowl by the year 2000. Just as the Dust Bowl of the 1930s was created by misusing western farmland,he forecast that continued misuse of lakes would lead to water degradation. To-day, waters suffer from our ignorance and denial. His predictions have been realized.Science tells us Lake recovery is costly and takes time. Having failed to heed the warnings,the most cost effective approach now is to reduce inputs and wait for decades, for the symptoms of eutrophication to subside. The old adage"a gram of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure", fits Lake Winnipeg's algae problems perfectly. It is a hard lesson to learn.It is clear that governments have ignored this basic principle of Water Stewardship for many years in the pursuit of narrow economic interests.Lake Winnipeg has become a horrid reminder of devastation, that we are leaving our children and their children to bear alone.
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