Great Lakes Introduction Human Impacts

Great Lakes Communities and Ecosystems at RiskThe Challengespacer
Confront the Challenge
• Climate in the Region
• The Report
• Technical Background
• For Teachers

Explore the Impacts
• Overview
• Migrating Climates
• Water Resources
• Sense of Place

Discover the Solutions
• Overview
• Reducing our Emissions
• Managing our Response
• Ten Personal Solutions

spacer spacer
Human Impacts

Tips for navigating the technical appendices:
The links below lead to a range of background papers (in .pdf format). Within each you may find links to related background papers. Following these embedded links, a new window will open. After reading the linked text, you may close that window or press the [←Back] key to return to the original pdf.

The combined stresses of climate change and other human pressures on the environment will produce impacts that people living in the Great Lakes Region will feel directly and indirectly in virtually all spheres of their lives. Since the environment and the many goods and services we derive from it are at the base of the regional economy, impacts of climate change will be felt in a myriad of ways - from changes in our direct surroundings, our activities, our welfare, to those in our economy.

Maybe the most direct impact will be felt in the areas of human health and well-being. Climate change could increase the risks from air pollution and from severe weather events, but also through the higher frequency and severity of extreme heat. In addition, there may be a growing risk from infectious diseases. All of these health-related risks may be prevented or at least mitigated through effective measures. However, a growing risk to particularly vulnerable populations such as the elderly, the very young, and the poor remain and require special attention.

Moreover, climate change of the magnitude recent climate models project, will fundamentally alter the character of this northern-temperate region. When boreal forests disappear from Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, when Wisconsin’s “Kites on Ice” winter festival can no longer rely on lakes being frozen in the winter, or when farmer’s in Illinois face droughts of a magnitude that threaten the viability of agriculture - people’s sense of place gets shaken up. The question is, whether residents of the Great Lakes Region are willing to let go of what they know, love and care about, or instead work toward solutions that will allow them to keep what makes the Great Lakes Region “home.”

Please click on the links below for further information on:

spacer spacer
Survey the Region
• Overview
• Illinois
• Indiana
• Michigan
• Minnesota
• New York
• Ohio
• Ontario
• Pennsylvania
• Wisconsin


We Need Your Support
to Make Change Happen

We can reduce global warming emissions and ensure communities have the resources they need to withstand the effects of climate change—but not without you. Your generous support helps develop science-based solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.