Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bad Boosterism: Chicago Tribune Soft-Pedals Fears About The Asian Carp

The Chicago Tribune editorial board thinks people are worrying too much about Asian carp decimating the Great Lakes.

The evidence: that so far, only one carp has been found - - dead through a mass poisoning effort - - close to the electric barriers designed to keep these great predators out of the Great Lakes.

I'd say it's a little too soon to declare victory, but let's be honest. The Trib was just speaking up on behalf of its city's sewerage and shipping canal - - an engineering feat about a century old that carries Chicago's waste away from the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi River system.

Barges and recreational boaters navigate the canal, too, using it as a direct, but artificial route to the Mississippi.

Problem is that the carp have successfully moved up river from the Deep South, swimming against the flow: the canal could be the entry point for the carp, perhaps the ultimate invasive specie, to the Great Lakes.

Closing the canal, or shutting the locks when the electric barriers go down for their regular maintenance would help keep the carp and their environmental disaster out of Lake Michigan, but the Trib says messing with the canal or the locks is going to far.

And another Chicago writer urges caution, too.

The canal certainly helped remove hazardous pollution from Lake Michigan, but major, unprecedented protective measures against invasives are needed it the canal is their conduit.

Cheerleading for the canal as if it were a one-way benefit for the Great Lakes region is counter-productive and parochial.

Or is "Don't Mess With Our Toilet" the Chicago's new slogan?


Stephen Karlson said...

Is the old Portage canal (connecting the Wisconsin River to the Fox River) secure? Otherwise that's a potential back door for those fish to get into the Great Lakes.

enoughalready said...

An editorial in USA TODAY did the same thing, even faulting those in Michigan who are 'carping' on the issue. Apparently, the paper's writers are not fully aware of the unique threat posed by the carp. (Contrary to the impression left by their editorial, the Asian carp is not just another invasive species.) The paper appeared to be more concerned about the $25 billion in goods shipped via the canal than about the priceless resources of the perilously threatened Great Lakes.

Betsey said...

For those who argue that Milwaukee dumps sewage into Lake Michigan (so why bother preventing the Asian Carp from entering it, the argument goes) I propose a new agreement between Illinois and Wisconsin that could also double as the slogan of a joint campaign to clean up Lake Michigan:

No Carp. No Crap.

Respectfully submitted . . . .