"We're Killing Our Lakes and Oceans": Kent State Geology Professor Co-Authors Op-Ed Essay

Joseph D. Ortiz, Ph.D., professor and assistant chair in the department of geology at Kent State University recently co-authored an op-ed essay for Undark.org with his colleague Eelco J. Rohling, a professor of ocean and climate change at the Australian National University in Canberra, and at the University of Southampton in England.

The essay is titled "We’re Killing Our Lakes and Oceans. The Consequences Are Real." and discusses the importance of updating the Clean Water Act. In their essay the authors discuss the threats of global warming and eutrophication (due to runoff) of our lakes and oceans, especially Lake Erie. To read the essay, visit: https://undark.org/article/dead-zones-oceans-lakes-coastal-seas/

The essay discusses the historical aspects of this issue, such as the effects of the draining of the Great Black Swamp in Northwest Ohio for agricultural purposes and the subsequent impact on Lake Erie. It also discusses the positive effects of the amendments to the Clean Water Act in 1972 and the current need for this act to be updated to address the large cyanobacterial blooms. These blooms in the Western Basin of Lake Eric can contain microcystis and planktothrix which can produce liver toxins that the World Health Organization considers dangerous even in minute concentrations.

The authors close with the message: "Detailed studies have now established that phosphorus levels would need to be decreased by about 40 percent to restore Lake Erie to mid-1990s conditions. Only a wholesale change in our attitudes toward the environment can bring relief, including committed conservation, re-establishment of natural filtration systems (wetlands and swamps), and relentless efforts to reduce runoff nutrient levels. This cannot happen without an updated Clean Water Act."

Undark is a non-profit, editorially independent digital magazine exploring the intersection of science and society. It is published with generous funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, through its Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 7, 2018 11:47 AM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 01:22 AM
College of Arts and Sciences