Michigan & Projected Water Scarcity

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High water bills, potential water shutoffs and no good explanation. That’s the situation residents say they face in Highland Park Michigan. In this they are not alone, that has been the state of play in Detroit for some time now.

Marian Kramer, 70, is furious, saying city officials have not been forthcoming. Kramer said her last water bill was more than $3,300.

Kramer said the issues stretch back several years, and the city has not billed residents consistently, leading to suddenly sky-high bills that are unmanageable for many residents. Paying for a basic human right, that of being able to drink water, who would have thought the world would have come to this? Marilyn Mullane, executive director of Michigan Legal Services, said the issue is widespread, potentially affecting thousands of residents, many of whom are elderly & poor.

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As for those of us affluent enough to be able to afford bottled water, it must be reassuring to know that some of the best bottled Michigan water comes from the Ice Mountain Spring Water Bottling Factory. The factory pulls its water from Michigan wells owned by a Swiss Corporation.

This factory pumps hundreds of millions of gallons per year  — making billions of dollars in profit. The private property of a Swiss owned water mining factory, Ice Mountain Spring Water™ is a wholly owned division of Nestlé Waters North America, Inc. — which was formerly marketed as the Perrier Group of America Inc. Would that be Nestlé the producers of Palm-oil at the cost of deforestation in Asia & Latin America? The very same.

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And that’s not all, informed scientific and economic projections allow us to know that Michigan faces significant losses in industries crucial to its economy, if no action is taken to combat the effects of global warming.

Data shows Michigan is poised to benefit from the research, development, and distribution of renewable energy technologies. In 2008, Michigan ranked second in the nation in new wind energy installations and is currently home to nearly 150 megawatts of installed wind capacity. 

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However should Michigan fail to take action against climate change, the people of Michigan could have much to lose. Global warming is predicted to cause water levels in the Great Lakes to decline significantly. Flooding from more frequent severe rainstorms is likely to intensify. During this same time period summers will include a far greater number of days over 90°F, as many as 987 days between 2080-2099 in Detroit—compared to 1970-1989, a sevenfold increase.

These climate changes will be detrimental to Michigan’s economic security, especially harming some of its highest-grossing industries— manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, and tourism. In total, nearly 40% of Michigan’s labor force will be directly affected by unmitigated global warming.

Manufacturing will be hurt as a result of declining water levels in the Great Lakes, which will hinder the state’s shipping capabilities.

The agriculture industry will see longer, but drier and hotter, growing seasons and will have to adapt to rapidly changing climate conditions. Michigan’s winters will be warmer, wildlife will migrate northward, and its waterscape will be disrupted, bringing fewer tourists and recreational revenue into the state. 

Each year Michigan spends nearly $17.5 billion in 2004, and supports 193,000 jobs statewide related to various tourist activities, including wildlife watching, fishing, cruises, and snowmobiling. Each of these attractions faces a decline in numbers of tourists due to changes in Michigan’s climate. For example, trout are an important species to Michigan’s wildlife industry, but they are especially susceptible to migration as temperatures continue to rise. Michigan would lose approximately $75 million annually if trout were to leave its waters, impacting over 180,000 anglers.

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