I’m doing research on dystopian literature right now, and I’ve been trying to collect academic work that deals with climate change and natural disaster. I’m also from the Midwest, so I am familiar with the Great Lakes and the problems that have plagued them in recent years. Dan Egan’s The Death and Life of the Great Lakes is a highly engaging examination of these issues, written in a clear, journalistic style.
I knew vaguely of the arrival of the zebra mussels to the Great Lakes, but not necessarily how pervasive they were or how they really affected the Great Lakes’ ecosystem. I had no idea about the alewives or the unsuccessful fishing programs that really tanked the Great Lakes’ natural species and ecology. So this book filled me with a lot of shock and anger. How could these things happen? How could we be so ignorant about one of our beloved and most valuable natural resources? What is next? Egan himself is a Milwaukee native, and so I found an added relevance to his research findings.
This is a book that is packed full of interesting and relevant research, as well as anecdotes about how these problems came to be, and where we can expect to see the Lakes evolve next. I found this to be a worthwhile read. It is dire in its warnings about neglecting the Great Lakes, but there is also a hopeful tone that we can right a few of the wrongs that we have enacted, and that we should also take better care of our natural resources. You’ll definitely enjoy this read if you have ever been to or lived in a Great Lakes state. Most of my own life has been spent in the specter of a Great Lake, so I felt that I understood what was at stake in this book. It’s well-written, engaging, and urgent.
Cross-posted to my blog.