Browse Exhibits (6 total)
What about the future of Michigan's water? At CMU, the Biology Department's CMUBS and the Institute for Great Lakes Research has taken a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the complex issues affecting the Great Lakes Basin. Professors, students, and community members alike have banded together in an effort to conserve and protect the precious freshwater of the Great Lakes.
Water has been dubbed the "new oil." It will determine geopolitics, influence, diplomacy, and even conflict. While bodies of water form natural boundaries, people often share access. Michigan's boundaries themselves are tied up in water—with at least two state lines going through Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Basin has shaped politics since the arrival of French and British colonists.
The challenges of the Great Lakes—ice, climate change, storms, invasive species, erosion, pollution—have inspired innovative transportation solutions so people can earn a livelihood. From the fur trade to urban and industrial growth, Michigan’s waterways have remained the most important conduit for commerce.
Water has played an integral role in society throughout time. It is sacred not just to the Indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes but to all living creatures. The water within the Great Lakes Basin is the subject of many Tribal stories and is revered by many even beyond the basin itself.
Michigan's Great Lakes, inland lakes, and streams and rivers offer a wide range of activities from fishing to hiking, diving to cruising, and much more. Miles of beaches and waterways provide hundreds of camping, picnicking, paddle-boarding, canoeing, and national lakeshore areas for a thriving tourist industry. Sleeping Bear Dunes and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore boast thousands of visitors every year.
The Great Lakes both face and cause manmade and natural disasters. With navigable waters as dangerous as the seas, even experienced captains understand and respect the limits of the shipping season on the inland seas. Shipwrecks, erosion, and severe storms are among some of the natural hazards that threaten lives and property along the shorelines. There have been at least 25 killer storms affecting the region since 1847. The most famous situation of a natural disaster at work is the sudden disappearance and sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which is now thought to be a casualty of the "three sisters" waves phenomenon.