Former vice president and Nobel laureate Al Gore attributes algae blooms in the Great Lakes to climate change, but not everyone is so sure it is the problem.
The Great Lakes suffers from various environmental problems including toxic algae blooms, a drop in fish supply, and high mercury contamination levels, several media outlets have reported.
Gore spoke at the International Joint Commission on Thursday and linked the Great Lakes algae problem, as well as a host of international environmental catastrophes, to climate change, The Associated Press reported.
We're still acting as if it's perfectly OK to use this thin-shelled atmosphere as an open sewer, Gore said, reported by AP . It's not OK. We need to listen to the scientists. We need to use the tried and true method of using the best evidence, debating and discussing it, but not pretending that facts are not facts.
But not everyone agrees that climate change is causing the algae problems.
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) released a report earlier this month attributing the problem to farm fertilizer run-off and certain mussels. They also noted that the current algal bloom was the worst in recorded history.
Too much food is causing massive algal blooms in Lake Erie and other coastal systems, while too little food is making fish starve in Lake Huron's offshore waters, NWF Great Lakes Regional Center regional executive director Andy Buchsbaum said in a statement. Nutrient-rich runoff from farms is growing a huge crop of algae along the lakes' coasts, but those nutrients aren't making it out to the water in the middle of the lakes. Quagga mussels are consuming almost all of it, leaving nothing left in the water for fish to eat.
Whatever the cause, the algae is not sitting well with those who can see and smell it.
It looks like there's actually just green slime all over the water, SanduskyRegister.com editor Sarah Weber said of Lake Erie in a video posted on the Web site.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes on their Web site 43 areas of concern identified around the Great Lakes.
Twenty-six of these areas are in the U.S. and five are shared between the U.S. and Canada.
Many of the algae-infested regions, according to the EPA, have been negatively affected by bad regulation of dumping of hazardous wastes.
But some scientists believe the problem needs more research to determine the actual cause.
Case Western Reserve University biology professor Joseph Koonce is one. He was involved in a report that was presented at the International Joint Commission, The AP reported.
It's clear that the problem is getting worse, Koonce said, The AP reported. The public demands us to do something. But we need more information.