Daily Bread for 1.13.22: Lake Superior’s Forever Chemicals

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of 33.  Sunrise is 7:23 AM and sunset 4:44 PM for 9h 21m 45s of daytime.  The moon is a waxing gibbous with 83.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1922, the call letters of experimental station 9XM in Madison were replaced by WHA. This station dates back to 1917, making it “the oldest station in the nation.” 

 Shantal Riley reports Lake Superior’s Forever Chemicals:

Early last year, the state of Wisconsin issued a fish consumption advisory that recommended eating no more than one meal a month of Lake Superior rainbow smelt, caught by tribes and local anglers during smelt runs in the spring. It was the first advisory for any of the Great Lakes warning of fish with elevated levels of PFAS — perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of man-made chemicals linked to cancer that have shown up in drinking water systems around the country.

PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down in the environment. After years of industrial use, the federal government recently took steps to regulate them. But will it be enough to assure the safety of the Indigenous people who have fished on the lake for thousands of years — and depend on the fish for survival?


Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake on Earth by surface area, spanning a vast 31,700 square miles. Surrounded by dense forests and relatively sparse populations, more than 80 species of fish live in its cold, remote waters. While the fish are abundant, they’re rife with contaminants: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, the pesticide toxaphene — all linked to cancer — and mercury, left behind as a legacy of mining in a rugged region known as Copper Country. There are enough pollutants now circulating in the great lake that Michigan lists more than a dozen consumption advisories for its fish, and the pollution runs headlong into areas where tribes practice subsistence fishing.

Beautiful, but damaged. Advanced societies such as America’s, freed from immediate necessity, have an obligation of foresight. It’s not enough to do something; one should consider the consequences of what one does. It has been, after all, the foresight of many that has lifted us from mere subsistence.

In a small city like Whitewater, for example, the question about Cravath and Trippe Lakes has not been whether they would be refilled. Of course they were going to be refilled, sooner or later. The question has been how they would be refilled. Putting mere water back into the lakes is no environmental risk; proposing wide use of artificial herbicides (although not ‘forever chemicals’) on the surface area of the drained lakes was the risk. See Reporting About Artificial Herbicides in Whitewater, Wisconsin.

It was, needless to say, an unnecessary risk. Herbicide into the lakes — aquatic Roundup or some such — was a shortsighted and lazy way to accomplish an enduring restoration. Abandoning that aspect of the project was the very least Whitewater’s local government owed its residents.

‘The party’s over’: Keir Starmer derides Boris Johnson’s apology at question time:

The Labour leader has said the prime minister’s apology over for attending what he had thought was a ‘work event’ in the garden at No 10 in May 2020, when the country was in full lockdown, was ‘offensive to the British public’. Keir Starmer called for Boris Johnson to ‘do the decent thing’ and resign before either his party or the public drove him out of office.

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