65: An Accident of Industrial History
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Stuart Carlton 0:00
teach me about the Great Lakes. Teach me about the Great Lakes John, welcome back to teach me about the Great Lakes a twice monthly podcast in which I A Great Lakes novice as people who are smarter and harder working than I am to teach me all about the Great Lakes. My name is Stuart Carlton, I work with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and I know all about the devastation of defeat when you lose a little league baseball game because your own child couldn't get a hit.
But I don't know a lot about the Great Lakes. That's one of those podcasts. I'm joined today by the one the only less special Carolyn Foley. How are you today, Carolyn? I apparently I'm getting better than you because we did not lose in softball.
Carolyn Foley 0:38
But that's because the only because we don't play so.
Stuart Carlton 0:42
Oh, well. That'd be reason. No, this was baseball game actually wasn't it wasn't my foot in trash. My kid pockets. He had a great. The fault is entirely what the assistant coach. I'm the head coach for the record. Anyway. But today, let's jump straight in. You know, we got a jam packed show. I'm super excited about our interview. It's based on a book that I read part of but I can't wait to read the rest of and so we're gonna go straight into it. It's
Carolyn Foley 1:06
just a book that you legitimately messaged me and said, Oh my goodness, I think I love this book.
Stuart Carlton 1:13
That's what I think I love this book. I do and so I'm super fired up anyway to talk to the author of it. Who is definitely not muted on the zoom right now and chime in. So that is good. And news news Great Lakes news. Let's do it. We have great like news today. Carolyn younger Lisa
Carolyn Foley 1:30
for have you. I haven't know. So I'll just sit back and watch. Have you heard the Great Lakes news theme song? I have not. So let's hear it now.
Stuart Carlton 1:37
It's among our best.
Now it's time for the Great Lakes news. Here's your host, Stuart Carlton. Thank you for that Stewart in the star of Great Lakes. He was the one the only scientists of Botha of Great Lakes. Now. How are you doing today?
Sandra Svoboda 1:57
I'm good. I'm still laughing about the entry theme song. I love it.
Stuart Carlton 2:02
It's I mean, you know, it is what it is. We all love it. And it's top notch work worth every penny that we paid. So my understanding is you got three stories for us. Exactly. Is that Is that right? Three stories? Oh,
Sandra Svoboda 2:16
it was a little bit. Stuart. I have three topics. The first one, the first one is more than a story? No, because I'm sneaking in more than one story with the first one because it's a project.
Stuart Carlton 2:30
That's why your news professional,
Sandra Svoboda 2:32
shameless self promotion here. We've discussed this before. But yes, we have three great lakes. now.org is our news site. We have a monthly show and PBS stations. And we bring you news about the lakes you love. Sometimes it's not as good news, which is how we're going to start this week. But I promise Stewart, the third one will have you smiling, I think maybe released it's a iconic symbol that you know, has a good story
Stuart Carlton 2:56
with you every few weeks has me smiling. Oh, there we go.
Sandra Svoboda 3:01
Alright, anyway. So the first thing that we're going to talk about today is coal ash. So that is what's leftover after we burn coal for energy, which goes on much less now than it used to. But all those decades of burning coal left us with the two kids. Mill likes if you're paying attention
Stuart Carlton 3:26
to find the website.
Sandra Svoboda 3:28
So coal ash is a political football to put it bluntly, and make everyone read our stories. Oops, did I say that out loud? Okay. Anyway, coal ash is really a serious topic of concern for a lot of environmentalists and communities and companies if they're looking to protect their sites from spilling this coal ash into drinking water, for example, the Great Lakes, other waterways. And that has happened where ponds have flooded and the heavy metals that are in the ash from when it is burned, get into water and you know, have wiped out some waterways. So I can't pretend I can't take credit for all of this because this project was actually done by journalism students at Northwestern University, their professor Caroline Carson, has been a writer for Great Lakes now been on our show. And so she brought us this packet of stories and said, Would you be interested in publishing them? The energy news network is going to publish a dozen stories from an international project, but they also have a lot of focus on the Great Lakes. I of course, said Yes. Anything I can do without working is always good. But also we didn't only publish the stories we built our monthly show out of it, because we think it's really that important of an issue when we're talking really serious water quality issues. It's impossible to say exactly what the risk is, like many environmental topics and what risk we are all willing to live with. And what is the risk and reward or cost either financially to prevent these things from happening or cleaning up are all part of this discussion. And so there's a series of stories that range from Waukegan Illinois Joliet the Finger Lakes where there's a Bitcoin mine that's of concern some other national stories that you can go to Great Lakes now.org/coal Ash and see this entire project really a lot of good in depth reporting and like I gotta give the students props here.
Stuart Carlton 5:16
A Bitcoin mine Wait, what now? I'm confused No,
Carolyn Foley 5:19
no, don't do it. It's not worth it we're gonna want to know just I feel like that would be a whole episode in and of itself like yeah, all right,
Stuart Carlton 5:30
we're not I'm sorry we're not having a whole episode on Bitcoin mining
Sandra Svoboda 5:33
Oh, but coal ash Stewart, I tried to get you to do a whole episode on coal ash. Well, instead I'm just gonna keep talking about our project.
Stuart Carlton 5:39
With our story one go to see the coal ash thing that we have. It's been demanded the show has been taken hostage. It's been hostile Lee is a hostile takeover. Now we will do that. But for now, story
Sandra Svoboda 5:52
two, story two. So story two is also kind of a series of stories that is going ongoing. And it's also really a national issue. So I know this is teach me about the Great Lakes. But the Great Lakes are also have similar issues to places all over the country, especially when it comes to harmful algal blooms. So this, of course, makes headlines for Lake Erie, we get a forecast every year because back in 2014, that pesky blue ugly green algae shut down the drinking water system for the City of Toledo, Ohio. Well, nothing gets scientists and policymakers and lawmakers attention like a crisis. Right. So a lot of work has been done. Since then, monitoring the bloom, you've had Eddie to talk about the buoys and water quality control that are there. And there has also been for a few years a documentary in the making. It's called the Erie situation. And that's starting to make the film festival circuit and will making its broadcast debut on PBS some of the PBS stations around Lake Erie. So that kind of the seasonal thing. It's not just the documentary, but the news that's out there about the algal bloom. You know, this has been an issue in Lake Erie, we have a q&a from a researcher talking about kind of what those priorities should be. And then also some other stories that are so again, this is kind of a series of stories and an ongoing issue. But you know, I didn't realize until I was doing the research for this just how many states have problems with algae blooms just in the last month, you know, even beyond the Great Lakes beyond the Great Lakes coast, Pennsylvania and New York and then most like a lot of West Coast, California, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Idaho, all have issues with the harmful algal blooms. I mean, I I sort of skipped over what they are Stuart because I being a member of your audience know how smart your audience is. Yes. But, but better
Stuart Carlton 7:37
than I am. One specific choice they make, but that's okay.
Sandra Svoboda 7:41
But you know, it is a serious issue for drinking water and also pets. I think a lot of people don't realize how dangerous these blooms can be for pets, kids that get in the water. If your dog is drinking the water, then that can be a real problem. And there have been deaths in Lake Erie. So the bloom forecast in Lake Erie was for being a little bit better than normal. As we're recording this we're having cool weather and I'm knocking on wood that we don't jump back to 100 degrees again but harmful algal blooms and issue we keep an eye on and you know, we are I guess I'll give the shout out. We're always looking for the new research what's what's going to be happening that's that scientists are working on in conjunction with the communities that need to know they draw their water from the lakes and systems where these blooms occur. What's going on in that regard to keep us all safe?
Carolyn Foley 8:26
So yeah, so that's fantastic. And we will be having a live show talking about issues on Lake Erie
Stuart Carlton 8:33
okay, this gives me a chance to be promotional. If you're interested in like your I know squat about Lake Erie, I'll be honest, I in fact, I drove to Buffalo this summer, and I was super excited because I thought it would get to see like areas I drove through Cleveland. But the car was kind of short. And the highway barriers were high. And so I saw no Lake Erie I was so upset. I was wonderful with my dad. Not that I was talking about his driving of course but but I'm and I was like actively says I've never even seen Lake Erie. I've been Rock Roll Hall of Fame but not the liquor
Sandra Svoboda 9:02
steward. It is my job as the Great Lakes now program director to be the ambassador of tourism for the Great Lakes as well. And I'm just going to point out, you could have pulled off the internet, that would have been an option. Just making sure you know that's available.
Stuart Carlton 9:15
Yeah, once I got white line fever, but anyway. So I'm excited to learn about like you're in the way I'm going to do it as this because I'm gonna do it the laziest way possible, which is to have fun doing it. And the way that we're going to do it is with our live show, September 13. Live from masthead Brewing Company Cleveland, Ohio as part of secret week. So if you're going to be at Sea Grant week, or if you just live in Cleveland, like I assume many of you do. Most of the listeners may live in Cleveland, for all I know. Come to master brewery about eight o'clock we think and we're going to have Chris Winslow, the director of Ohio secret The first secret big wig we've ever had. And we're gonna play a fun game with Chris he knows a lot about a lot of different issues in Lake Erie. And so we're gonna probe his knowledge life master brewery, we're just waiting to download it. And that's later Sadly, no, no Great Lakes news on that one. Senator, I apologize.
Sandra Svoboda 10:04
Well, that's okay. I'll still listen to
Carolyn Foley 10:06
it. For right now what is story three?
Sandra Svoboda 10:09
Okay, so story three is about the aisle royal wolves. So, Stuart, you are new to the Great Lakes region. Do you know where aisle royal is?
Stuart Carlton 10:18
I do know where I live. Actually, thanks to our guests on episode number. What was it three we invited Laurie new and hice, who is an author and adventurer, she wrote a book about wandering the Great Lakes walking around all of the Great Lakes. And she talked to us a bit about IO royal, and about how she was out there. And she carried wolf or moose moose heads, Moose skulls as part of like this community science thing. So if you look on the Great Lakes, I'm not even kidding. If you look on our very cool artwork by Joel Davenport, you will see a moose skull. And that was inspired that was inspired by the the moose community. So he had said learning new in hice. Does and other people on IO Royal. So that is the extent of my knowledge of IO Royal.
Sandra Svoboda 11:01
Okay. But you know, there are wolves on IO rail, you know that. So this goes back. I mean, I don't want to say how many decades but I remember going to IO with my family when I was in junior high. I mean, some kids got to go to Disney World, I got to go to aisle royal with a backpack. And I remember how, what an impression that made that there were moose and wolves on that island, you know, that we were hiking around. So and you know, they it's sort of a very unique place in the Great Lakes. It's one of the most remote and least visited national parks. And so the wolves in the moose are often making headlines, many for many years, because their populations were in a bit of trouble, like down to two wolves on the island. And so there has been a story that we have in our website at Great Lakes now.org. And it was written by John Fletcher, who's the Associated Press environmental writer, we talked about him in a previous episode by John getting the word out about the Great Lakes and that international news network. We appreciate that. So anyway, the it looks like the gray wolf population has made a really dramatic comeback this year. And they think it's as many as Stewart Guess how many wolves they believe are on aisle royal now.
Stuart Carlton 12:11
All right, I'm gonna do it. But we're gonna do it the way that we do it, which always works. So I'm going to take guests, and you're going to tell me if I'm right, or if I'm wrong. So here we go. 14,697
Sandra Svoboda 12:30
Oh, that's it. How did you know? Okay, I'm joking. These podcasts are hard. People can't see me laughing but you know, 28, which is, you know, really? So? It is it is? And really, you know, I look at this, the story that we have, again from John that talks about the numbers of the moose population to because you know, Stuart, big question here. What do you think the relationship is between the wolves and the moose and Ira?
Stuart Carlton 12:57
Funny, you should ask. They eat them.
Sandra Svoboda 13:04
Stuart Carlton 13:06
Wow, who knows? No, the wolves eat the moose. The wolves eat the moose very fast.
Sandra Svoboda 13:14
Do eat the moose. And so, you know, so they live in today's complicated ecosystem. Another theme of the show. So, you know, the moose population up and down as well. But right now there are several hundreds of moose on the island, and that sustaining the wolf population of about 28 right now. So
Stuart Carlton 13:33
this is this is interesting, this actually does touch into something. And that is that is great news. This touches into a couple of things that I do happen to know a little bit about not about our role, specifically. But wolf introductions is one of the foundational like creation myths of my field, essentially, of the human dimensions of conservation because wolves were, I think, completely extirpated, which means locally extinct in the northern rocky areas in the 20th century, if not completely, virtually, completely. And I'm in the 90s, which is when my field was fairly young, but But starting to really develop a lot of social scientists did work to analyze the costs and benefits of moose or, excuse me, wolf reintroduction, and they found that you know, the costs of the reintroduction, like the economic costs, were going to be low, like on the order of 1% of the benefits of reintroducing the walls, because people will come to see them and things like that. And so that was, that was some of the really important work. And then in the early part of the 20th century, the they reintroduced the US Federal Government, Richardson, but it's been a big, big success. They're like 100, mooses or more mooses come on Stewart. Wolves. I don't know why I'm talking about mooses. I do. It's your fault. But anyway, wolves. I got moose on the brain, that big moose skull. They're like 100, under I think 1000 in Idaho, and so it was a real big success story. But then of course, you know, there's the flip side.
Sandra Svoboda 14:50
You can see me going wait a minute, Stuart, success by who's measure
Stuart Carlton 14:55
that's the problem with wolves is I mean, you know, it's a predator and people will get lit Jim really nervous about them. And I understand that, right.
Sandra Svoboda 15:03
Ranchers, you know, the whole ranching community out there. And I mean, there have been, there's been a lot of I mean, we're a little out of the Great Lakes region. We don't have the same issues here. But we do have, you know, the wolf hunt. That's controversial and several other Great Lakes states and whether that will happen or not, but it will not I will rail because it's a national park.
Stuart Carlton 15:21
Yeah. So there, it's purely a success. That's what I was kind of thinking about. It's interesting, because I'm up itself, I found a 2007 study on the I'll link to it. On wolf acceptance capacity, there's this concept called a wildlife acceptance capacity, which is like the most number of volts that people will accept in an area. And then there's also like the minimum tolerance, right, and you have people of different minimum tolerances, that's the minimum they want to have in an area and the acceptance capacities and most will stand the challenge with with wolves is that people have very different views on those. For some people, the minimum tolerance is quite a few because they want to know that moose are there are wolves. They want to know the wolves are there. And they all know that moose are there anyway. And other people don't want any because of their their fear. And so it is complicated. But it's great to see this on an area where that the complication is removed because the National Park, and it's great.
Carolyn Foley 16:12
This is probably the best example of all of the times I've co hosted with Stuart, this is probably the best example that I'm like, yep. Stewart's not from the Great Lakes because anyone from the Great Lakes Basin here, I'll reach out and be like, oh, and you're just talking about loops right now.
Stuart Carlton 16:29
Sir, where can people go to find out more news about the lakes that they love?
Sandra Svoboda 16:33
You can find news about the lakes you love Stewart any day at Great Lakes now.org Thanks so much for having me.
Stuart Carlton 16:40
You're welcome. And we will take you out with the Great Lakes now theme song composed by Clint carpenter. We will take you out now. The Great Lakes theme song composed by the amazing Clint carpenter.
Unknown Speaker 17:22
Researcher feature rich researcher teaches about third grade.
Stuart Carlton 17:33
Our guest today is Dr. Lynn Heasley. She's a professor at the Institute of Environment and Sustainability at Western Michigan University. And Her most recent book is delightful the accidental reef and other ecological Odysseys in the Great Lakes and just the 2022 Nautilus silver winner for lyric pros. Lynn, how are you today?
Lynne Heasley 17:51
I am fantastic today. It's beautiful day, I got to teach my first class and it was just so wonderful being back in person in the classroom with my students where we were all in three dimensions
Stuart Carlton 18:03
that is good. Is this your first in person in a couple of years? Or is it
Lynne Heasley 18:06
it's the first in a couple of years? Because I was on research sabbatical last year? Oh,
Stuart Carlton 18:11
that'll do it. What we're gonna research was that about the external reef or something something new.
Lynne Heasley 18:16
So I had finished up the accidental reef and I've been doing some book gigs related to that. But I've I've started new research extending from the accidental reef, but but but some new ideas, some new places that I'm exploring.
Carolyn Foley 18:30
So let's go to the book that has already been written because I really want to ask questions about the new one. But um, so it's called the accidental reef, as we've mentioned, and is about a reef in the St. Clair River. So what is this reef? And why is it accidental?
Lynne Heasley 18:48
Ah, yes, so the accidental reef is kind of the touchstone and maybe the the heart and soul of the book. It's a tiny little spawning ground in the North Channel of the Sinclair River Delta. And it's accidental, because it's a little accident of industrial history. And perhaps we'll get more into this, but this was a this area was an industrial epicenter of American industry from about the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s. And during that time, a particular steamship that was serving salt mines, a particular salt mine near Algonac, dumped its coal waste over and over and over in the same place. And this was in the exact decades when, when lake sturgeon were about to be persecuted to near extinction in the Great Lakes as well. And so this little, this little pile of coal clinkers, and I know that the audience won't see it, but I brought one here for you to to see they look like little chunks of small lava. This little pile of coal clinkers became this unknown refuge for Lake Sturgeon during the years when they almost went extinct. And it wasn't located until the midnight 1890s And so it's the book The irony, but also the wonder that the product of the industrial history that actually compromise this area so profoundly, also provided, you know, the safe harbor and places for you know, fish like Lake Sturgeon, walleye bass, and also kind of the, you know, spawning ground for some of the invaders eventually, like round gobies and zebra mussels.
Carolyn Foley 20:26
So it's just a spot for everybody to hang out.
Lynne Heasley 20:30
Spot and it's a it's a gathering place. And I treat it as a gathering place in the books so I so even though it's you know, those ecological Odysseys spiral across space across time sometimes across eons they gather at this little accidental reef and and so the the fish and other aquatic life encounter each other but eventually I'd bring in scuba divers, fish biologists and, and other fishers and sports people who also connect with each other, the reef and transform each other and then spiral off into their own historical or ecological journeys.
Stuart Carlton 21:11
So I think we can sort of understand based on what you've already said, but But you use the St. Clair River and this accidental reef is sort of a starting off point for a broader discussion about the Great Lakes. Right. Maybe it spawns a discussion about the Great Lakes as it were. And so with that, why, why is it that the St. Clair River is such a great entry point in your mind? Why did you choose that as the starting off place?
Lynne Heasley 21:33
Well, it's you know, I probably have three parts to the to that question, in terms of my own answer. But um, first of all, I had wanted to write a book about the Great Lakes for a very long time, because of my teaching. I teach American environmental history, Great Lakes history, Introduction to Environmental Studies, Water and Environmental Justice. And I've accumulated all of these stories and histories of the Great Lakes that even my Michigander students who grew up in this area didn't know about. And sometimes they're very random, like they might not have known that the equivalent board feet of a maple tree Henry Ford would use and one of his Model
Stuart Carlton 22:10
T's they might not have known that.
Lynne Heasley 22:14
Anna Henry Ford himself had purchased 430,000 acres up in the up of timberland in order to serve you know, his his factories down on the Detroit River. So I wanted to put this together in a way into a bigger and complicated picture of the Great Lakes that still honor these stories. But the problem with that is it it became more like an encyclopedia in my mind, I could never I could never give it a structure or a shape and and any of us could edit an encyclopedia of these stories, but that's not what I wanted to do. And the reason it was so hard for me is I'm very placed based myself both in terms of my background in terms of my approach to living in the Great Lakes, in terms to what I teach my students, and I needed a place and so the Sinclair river had been very intriguing to me because there's literally no Great Lakes environmental issue, that the St. Clair River either isn't a poster child for exemplifying to take toxic pollution from a century of industry, literally bombarding the you know, the region, the river, but also the longer here on Erie corridor, or issues that actually got their foothold in the Great Lakes. And so the first establishment of zebra mussels was in the St. Clair River on the Canadian side, followed by round gobies followed by quagga mussels. And so that whole series of ponto Caspian invaders got themselves established and first identified in the St. Clair River. So that's two things, one, that that issue of a place to the centrality of the St. Clair River itself for all of the Great Lakes issues and problem solving we care about. And then the third is I've got a soft spot always for places that people don't and people that aren't fully appreciated. And so, the St. Clair River is big sister so to speak, would be the Detroit River and that's where a lot of the study the books, the action, the the biodiversity promotion, it's always the Detroit River. And yet there's so much happening in the St. Clair River and so it was my chance to honor the the lesser known of the corridor which would be the St. Clair
Carolyn Foley 24:28
River. That's fantastic. So it's such an important spot for the ecology. But then I remember a couple of years ago on Valentine's Day our our colleagues at the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory had put out a series of Valentines and one of them was focused on the St. Clair River Delta and there were a number of people who commented on social media like oh, so glad to see this getting some love. So I think you're not you're not alone there. So you mentioned that you have some some reading In the books and you talked a little bit about the the gathering space for for different like that the Sinclair River, and this reef in particular has is completely affected by anything that happens in the Great Lakes. I wonder if you can share your story about Cheng's zebra mussels as a good lens.
Lynne Heasley 25:20
Oh, okay, so zebra mussels is fillings. Yes, I'll um, I'll do a reading in which I put both my, my historians hat which won't be totally apparent, but the framing of it any environmental historian would recognize the term that I make. But also the storytelling involving science and how we is Great Lakes citizens react to the incursion of a species like zebra mussels, and often we, we vilify these newcomers who completely turn the existing food webs upside down, and maybe threaten the place that we've come to love for so long. And yet, as soon as you vilify or tell that story, whether it's through science or whether it's through our visceral reactions, it oversimplifies and keeps us from understanding how these zebra mussels might connect how eventually the ecosystem might adapt to them. But also keep keeps us from knowing them as well for their own sake. So I'll do a little passage here. Let's see if I can find it. So this is from the from chapter two of the book. LP Hartley once wrote that the past is a foreign country. Aquatic residents of today's St. Clair River would not recognize the same river of 1987. That was the year before zebra mussels on first contact in the Americas. In Lake Sinclair. Zebra mussels dry seen a polymorpha of the family dry sanity launched something akin to species on species combat, hundreds or 1000s to one they would descend on some unfortunate native indigenous clams like love to do fragile lists, put Canada on grandis Lamsa, silica idea, paternalism Alatus ElliptiGO della Tata and 15 others of the family unity or uni on it's a military field manual for a muscle attack might read like this. attach yourself to the rear of the first uni on Did you find do this by planting your foot on it shall note that your foot is actually a muscle press down. This stimulates the Bissell gland and your foot to make upwards of 600 threads. Use the cement strong grip of your sticky byssal threads to hold fast should you wish to detach release an enzyme to dissolve the Bissell thread proteins. Your opponent is large while you are little. With your comrades pile on 15,000 Dry seen it's one sack the single unit on it. So weigh down your clam disrupt its movement gash its home ground. Then, as a unit Jana did hails creating a microcurrent in the water to suck in micro food into its waiting event. intercept the food filter it out of the water column. The native shell fast fouled, it will starve from your intimate interference. Warfare is one way to see what happened below the surface of Lake Sinclair shell crashed on shell and 18 unique on its species dwindled and died out. The whole process, invade, colonize, dominate. extirpate took eight years. This is how a uni honored would remember 1988 and beyond if a clam had memories, local clams were there first, they didn't deserve their fate. The place is poor for their loss, an ecological yen of interdependence, adaptation and balance countered by a brutal new yang of conflict, dislocation and instability. One web of life torn apart and yet pause for a moment on words like native invade, colonize foul extirpate. All in the scientific literature on zebra mussels are these objective verbs and verbs and nouns, facts on the ground, exact accounts of ecosystem dynamics, perhaps their subjective dramas with victims and villains, moral metaphors, tragedies. Biology is Latin this language lends itself to science and storytime, omniscience and emotion. Minerva and Mars. So how would dressing a polymorpha retell the story if mosques had memories?
Carolyn Foley 29:52
That's fantastic. So that's something at the recent joint aquatic sciences meeting of colleague was home Holding on to another in like non native species to the Great Lakes region of the sea lamprey. And she said, she told me, she said, it's this majestic creature. And I thought you're just doing what you do. And she said, I need to think that when I'm working with the muscles that they are just doing what they do. So thanks so much for sharing that with us. That was just the
Stuart Carlton 30:24
language when you listen to that language, the war, the combat language is really is like a very specific framing, right? And I think that the way you did that was just, I don't want to sit there slobber all over everything. That was a brilliant piece of science communication, because there's so much that you can learn in there. But it's done in such a narrative way. And so I have two questions to follow from that. What do you think about the with non native species, and specifically, thinking about the way that we talk about them in the specific language we use? How do you think that affects the way that people think about them?
Lynne Heasley 30:54
I think for one thing we do, we do create these, these villains and these heroes, a lot of it has to do with how we want to use the water and the place itself. But I think one of the issues with that, that kind of combat language, and by the way, it's changing, you know, so even the, the scientists themselves are considering and changing their storytelling and their language. I think what it does is take the sense of time out. And so even though this chapter is, is going to follow the evolutionary history of the zebra mussels, I don't really bring that up to date until later on in the book. And so we're not set, you know, we're not set in one place and one time, and so eventually, for better or worse when it comes to these, these non native species, the aquatic ecosystems do adapt, they do adjust, they do change. And some of that is in ways that, that we either grieve because we're unhappy for, we're unhappy for the species that we do care a lot about. And some of it really is a kind of adaptation, where we can see signs of hope later. And so later in the in the book, there's a very well known union of scientists at Central Michigan University, Dave's Inada. And he's actually seen a few refugee of some of these native clams, and here's one of them. I got this from the Black River. But he and he and his group, they, they sample and they're seeing some of them and so so what I think that the hero villain, framing this is keep us from keeping track of complexity. And then watching more closely over time, how the system itself is changing. And maybe that would drive some of our policymaking and some of our interventions as well.
Carolyn Foley 32:41
And then, you know, bringing this back to the accidental reef itself thinking that you know, what, presumably was a dump that was not something that we would want could actually then be refuge for this extraordinarily important. Wonderful. I love the sturgeon. So I got to hold the little ones and help them release them one time. And they're Yeah, they're just incredible creatures. So I mean, yeah, that like, there is an ability to adapt. That's really, really cool.
Lynne Heasley 33:12
And the location and discovery of this accidental reef, actually laid the groundwork for the more major discovery of a much larger and sturgeon spawning site under the Blue Water Bridge itself, which crosses from the US to Canada. And, and that's a key part of the story in the second part of the book, too, is how that that little accident of Industrial History itself created the knowledge base for a couple of divers that I focus on, who then go on to discover. Again, I'll say probably the most important sturgeon spawning site in the Great Lakes system itself. And every
Stuart Carlton 33:53
site would lead the surge in one day to become a runner up for the 2021 Leakey for animal of the year. So that's that's really,
Lynne Heasley 34:00
I did not know that. Thank you. Why, why runner up, I find that
Carolyn Foley 34:07
Carolyn wasn't on that particular episode. That's why
Stuart Carlton 34:12
we have an awards show at the end of each year. And so surgeon, runner up is very good. But the piping clovers.
Lynne Heasley 34:19
Oh gosh, yeah, Mom's getting rose breaking my heart this year. Okay. Yeah.
Stuart Carlton 34:24
Okay, so my second question is this sort of building off the idea of language, and I gotta let the readers actually I'm gonna call you listeners because you're listening right now, not reading, I gotta let the listeners in a little bit behind the curtain. And that is when we invite people on. We don't have time to do a full, you know, review of their work. But so I gave myself two hours to prepare for the interview with Lynn. And she had this book. And she was like, Are you going to read my book beforehand? And yeah, I'll skim it. So I was like, Alright, I need to skim this. I'd have respect of course. But you know, you can read a scientific paper if we're gonna have like a scientist on to two hours. I can't read a whole book entitled Let me just skim to get the high points, right. And I found myself, I couldn't stop reading the book, I drafted zero questions during this whole two hour period, because I kept getting sucked into. Because, you know, we've read other Great Lakes books before and they're valuable. But but the writing and this is so vital. It's beautiful, of course, which is why it won this silver award for lyric pros, I assume that the silver award is the highest award. And if there's a gold award, then you should have won the gold award. It's hilarious in certain points, right? But what I really get is this feeling that you were there like your personality? I don't know you, but I feel like your personality is just drenched. drenching this book. And so I guess my question is this. We science communicators a lot we work with scientists and you are not like a natural learned or biophysical scientist. But, you know, we think a lot about the difference between are the trade offs and allowing our personality out, right? Do people have heard? Have you thought about that? Like, how does that work with your work? Or do people ever pushback on what you do and say, you know, it's too subjective, or it's too, in your voice to be good? You know, good information? What are your thoughts on that? I guess?
Lynne Heasley 36:03
Well answer. I'll answer that in two ways. One, even though I think I think any academic environmental historian or cultural geographer reading this would absolutely see the underlying research and the perspective that is historical and geographic at this water footnotes 50 pages of footnotes, so you don't have to read all of them. Yes, footnotes are kind of a compulsion for many of us. But um, but at the same time, none of them would recognize it, in my opinion, as academic environmental history. And, and so I gave myself the freedom then to allow the passion. Sometimes the subjectivity, sometimes the deep dives and random digressions, you know, probably some people might want to, might not want to finish the little digression, I took into filamentous bacteria in a paper mill. But I wanted to imbue it with that life, and that spirit, and that sense of place, and that sense of passion. And so that meant, you know, leaving some of my academic street cred behind and shoving the academic street cred into the footnotes, you know, and that's another meeting ground, right. So you'll see, you'll see all the scientific literature, the historical literature, the literature, literature, so, you know, so for people who want that they can go right to the footnotes. But I wanted to visualize and feel and experience because that's a major goal of the book, which is to help people see and know the Great Lakes differently than they do now. And it might not be all of the Great Lakes, but it might be a part of the Great Lakes. Back to your point on working with the scientists. What's really interesting about what you said, is if you go out in the field with scientists and I and my PhD is in Forest and Wildlife Ecology, so I have a lot of, you know, science humanities interface, in my my background, there as passionate as anyone, you know, they are as excited as anyone. One of the one of the profound moments that I had very small that stuck with me is I went out to, to look at a river with with a former colleague, who's retired now. And so in his grad student route, sampling the river, and he worked with caddisflies shells, you know, on the bottom of Iraq. So they did some sampling, and he was going to return some of the fish that he hadn't allowed back into the river. And one of them got squashed by a rock. And he was very distressed, that fish got squashed by a rock, it really touched him, he wanted to safely release it. So I think that that sense of passion and connection is a change in the last 20 years or so we are allowing ourselves that because if we don't express our passion and connection, then how in the world can we inspire the public or other people to feel connected and passionate enough to work on these issues. And so, so I a little plug for the scientists and their their, their deep commitment and passion.
Carolyn Foley 39:01
That's fantastic. And so as someone who has thought way too much about how this old threads form that I got, that all the science and the images, I was like, Yeah, that's exactly it. It's distilled in such a vivid way. It's really good. So one other idea that you explore in the book is the idea of water abundance in the Great Lakes in comparison with other areas, and you say that the Great Lakes has escaped the paradox of abundance. So what is the paradox of abundance? And how did the Great Lakes escape it?
Lynne Heasley 39:34
Okay. All right, I think, I think so that so that listeners aren't completely confused. Maybe I'll set up the book structure a little bit and then where that paradox of abundance fits into the overall book structure. And so the book is divided into three parts. Part one is hyperlocal. Underwater, very ecological. And so at that scale, you know, I'm introducing the Great Lakes in this tiny little spot in a Sinclair River. Part two, just called on scene and knowing and underwater biography. It's more that human scale that many of us are comfortable with the scale of a river, the scale of communities engaging that river learning that river, trying to problem solve on behalf of that river. So we're we're many of us were many of us exist professionally or personally. And then part three of the book, the starting scale, are those epic scales that are almost beyond our imagination, the Great Lakes themselves as having depending on whether you're consulting the USGS or the EPA, either 84% of the fresh surface water in North America, or maybe I think the USGS says 95%. But I think I think that's probably for the US alone. That's a scale that's hard to get your mind around. But also, the history of the Great Lakes is one of extraction of its resources beyond anything that we can get our minds around, I mean, just the sheer immensity of resource after resource after resource. The last two flocks up the passenger pigeons, one was in Michigan, one was in Wisconsin, and there had been a time where people thought passenger pigeons could never run out, right, the same with Great Lakes, Eastern White Pine, up in the up and then northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, so the immensity and scale and then that's what connects us globally, because we're part of that really extractive predator base, capitalist economy in which, in which much of the Great Lakes has been, you know, sucked out in order to serve industry or to end up somewhere else in the world too. So in terms of the paradox of abundance, the paradox itself, is my argument, that and it marks probably much of environmental history, the very immensity or vastness of wealth, and a particular resource, or particular part of the more than human world, it's very immensity immediately lays the seeds for its destruction, you know, its extraction, and that that extraction can happen too fast for the lags of human regret and policy to catch up with. So that is the story of the Great Lakes, it's a story of North American environmental history, just extraction on a large scale, iron in the Mesabi range of Minnesota, Eastern White Pine here, salt, you know, we have we have some of the largest deposits of salt, and it just goes on and on and on. Well, my argument about water is that somehow the Great Lakes, as an immense body of water have not followed that fate, that paradox of abundance. We have not become the Aral Sea. And we also don't have pipelines, you know, sending our water out to the central valley of California to irrigate their agriculture. So why is that? How is it that so far, and it's fragile and vulnerable? And there are horrifying kind of news accounts now, that should raise great insecurity on this count for all of us in terms of Great Lakes, water conservation, but how is it that, you know, no matter how polluted no matter how abused in different ways, we still have over 20% of the world's surface freshwater relatively intact and not being diverted on a mass scale in a way that compromises it's used for us. And it's used for the other creatures and beings who live among us, too. And so the, the partial answer that I and my colleague Dan McFarland,
Stuart Carlton 43:54
yeah, that's what I was gonna ask. All right. So now you said
Lynne Heasley 43:58
and so partial, the partial answer, and maybe the whole answer is that it is a an international body of water. So it is it is jointly used and managed by the US and Canada. And then I think we have to be fair add in all of the tribes and First Nations and so I will, you know, we might we tend to call it binational, I would say we should call it multinational or tri national in certain places, especially the Sinclair river. But the very, the very fact that it was it was that it occupies two countries and several other First Nations and tribal communities. That very fact meant that going all the way back to the 19th and early 20th century, the US and Canada had to negotiate its future. They had to be proactive and anticipatory, instead of reactive. And the paradox of abundance is one continual reaction after another, you know, clear cut the Great Lakes forest. Alright, well have new forms of forestry. But the Great Lakes forest has been clear cut. But with the Great Lakes, you had two countries who had to negotiate their use and negotiate their future together. And no matter how problematic that history actually has turned out to be, you did end up with the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, and the establishment of the International Joint Commission, and then eventually this legal scaffolding, that that requires at least some forward looking future looking anticipation of problems and trying to forego those problems ahead of time. So we do have this paradox of abundance that drives our use of immense natural resources. But so far, the the international dimension of the Great Lakes has been protective of the Great Lakes in this one area.
Carolyn Foley 45:51
And just that so many people value, like all the tribes and everyone, to its strong, strong identity. So
Stuart Carlton 46:00
that's why he thought that we were forced to be cooperative and forced to be proactive in that that makes a big difference. Well, this is really interesting. Lynn and I we're so glad that you've come on to tell us about this and, and I can't say enough how much I love this book. I love it enough that I'm actually gonna read the whole thing, which even though I was a literature major, that is a high bar to clear in my life right now. But but learning about the Great Lakes and the St. Clair River. And the paradox of abundance is not actually why we invited you here on teach me about the Great Lakes this week. The reason that we invited you on teach me about the Great Lakes is that's two questions. The first one is this. If you could choose to have a great donut for breakfast, or a great sandwich for lunch, which one would you choose?
Lynne Heasley 46:39
Hands down a sandwich for sure. The complexity of it right? I live for complexity. A donor to sugar, salt and fat.
Stuart Carlton 46:53
I love it. That's right, you're not gonna get a bouquet from a donor. I'm not gonna get there's no umami. That's good. So I think you're one here at Western Michigan, which is in Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo. So I'm gonna go to Kalamazoo and I'm going to stop by bells. I'm gonna give myself a hopslam two hearted ale. But you sleep it off. And the next morning, I'm going to be next day. I'm gonna be hungry for lunch. And I'm going to want to go get a sandwich. Where should I go in Kalamazoo to get a really great sandwich?
Lynne Heasley 47:20
Oh, that's a tough one. Would you would you call a taco a sandwich today as
Stuart Carlton 47:25
well. We're not getting into that. But tacos count they don't ask about tacos is then the answer would be obvious to this question. Right.
Lynne Heasley 47:31
We've got this little local place downtown. It's fairly new. It survived COVID Thankfully, and I always forget if it's more familiar or la familia, but you can get their amazing taco I think it's I think it's, I think it's called a really it's their special taco. It's, it's really fantastic. And, and then get the dipping sauce that goes with it too. Really incredible.
Stuart Carlton 47:57
We will put a link to that in our show notes at teach me about the great lakes.com/six Five because this is episode 65.
Carolyn Foley 48:04
Okay, so what is a special place in the Great Lakes that you'd like to share with our audience? And what makes it special?
Lynne Heasley 48:13
I think that is the the feared question of all Great Lakes writers. I think we're so afraid of that question. And the reason we're afraid of it is because anyone who writes about the Great Lakes, and I'm part of a very large community of Great Lakes writers actually who do wonderful work. We're all intensely curious and love, every place that we go. And so I think for me, if I'm going to answer that question, for 2022, based on this summer, I think I would recommend a journey rather than a specific place and the the journey would be to cross either the bridge at Detroit Windsor, or the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron Sarnia go up the Bruce Peninsula. Stop and Tober My catch the ferry and spend some time on Manitoulin Island. And Manitoulin Island is the largest freshwater island in the world. But it's a it's a place that's not too far from us and that many, many people won't see in their lifetimes. It's a gorgeous Island. It's got many First Nations on it. It's in Lake Huron itself and Lake Huron is one of those lesser appreciated, great lakes that people should get to know more. And so I would say journey up the peninsula and go to Manitoulin Island, and then maybe circle back around on the North Shore and come back down via Sioux Sainte Marie. I'd say do a circle.
Stuart Carlton 49:43
And this is not our first believe it or not, this is not our first Manitoulin Island recommendation. Fabulous. Go listen to teach me about the Great Lakes number 54 titled water is sacred. And here Dr. Laura Lee McGregor from the Ontario School of Medicine and a member of the White or whitefish river First Nation anyway, she also recommends to an island. Well, Dr. Lin Heasley, professor at the Institute of Environmental Sustainability at Western Michigan University, and author of what I promise will be a leaky nominee, the accidental reef and other ecological Odysseys in the Great Lakes. Thank you so much for coming on and teaching us all about the Great Lakes It
Lynne Heasley 50:20
was a pleasure thank you both so much.
Stuart Carlton 50:53
Anyone What a fantastic guest. I absolutely love that book. I can't wait to finish reading it. Like I said, it just really sucked me in and it's a it's just a different way to get into these Great Lakes issues. So it sounds like it's a great one. Hey, and we did plug it earlier, but I want to remind everybody live show September 13 around eight o'clock in the masthead, brewery? masthead. Yep. Carolyn and I can't ever remember between the two of us we have trouble remembering if it's masthead or Mastodon Yes,
Carolyn Foley 51:16
that's 100% accurate.
Stuart Carlton 51:23
But we'll be out at the masjid a Brewing Company is actually what it's called. And so come join us. It should be a lot of fun if you're there. And if you hit me up, I'll probably have stickers if you're there early enough. So let's do that.
Carolyn Foley 51:36
Teach me about the Great Lakes is brought to you by the fine people at Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. We encourage you to check out the great work we do at I see grant.org And that I NC grant on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Teach me about the Great Lakes is produced by hook charters, Carolyn Foley making gun and reading miles. Ethan Chitty is our associate producer and fixer. Our super fun podcast our work is by Joel Davenport. The show is edited by the awesome cornrows and we encourage you to check her workout at aspiring robot.com If you have a question or comment about the show, please email it to teach me about the great firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on our hotline that gets tons and tons of phone calls all the time. 765
Stuart Carlton 52:26
Call us people weren't lonely
Carolyn Foley 52:29
765496 I SG You can also follow the show on Twitter at Teach Great Lakes. Thanks for listening and keep grading those links