What can we do to protect Lake Superior from climate change in an era when state and federal politicians are eliminating sensible environmental protections? Lake Superior is the world’s largest freshwater lake—and also the world’s most quickly warming lake. But in the past year, instead of stronger environmental regulations to slow climate change and sustain clean water, we have seen concerted attacks on science, environment, and democracy. Climate change denier Scott Pruitt was put in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, although he could not name a single regulation he favors. Congress has revoked rules against dumping mining waste in streams and polluting watersheds with mercury. Mining projects are rapidly expanding in the Lake Superior basin, as state legislatures undo laws that have long protected our water resources. How can we develop new strategies to protect our watershed in the face of climate change? In this talk, Nancy Langston discusses what we can learn from past grassroots struggles to protect Lake Superior as we mobilize to face even greater threats today.
Nancy Langston is professor of environmental history in the Department of Social Sciences, the School of Forest Resources and Environmental Sciences, and the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University. Her research examines water policy, history, and governance. Former president of the American Society for Environmental History and editor of Environmental History, she is author of four books about environmental change, including the recently-published Sustaining Lake Superior. She was the King’s Professor of Environmental Sciences in Sweden, where she worked on Sami opposition to mining projects, and she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Umea University in Sweden as well.