UPDATE: The book is now available on Amazon.com and should be in Michigan bookstores no later than 5.15.08.
Government Asleep on Water Issues?
By David Lubbers and Dave Dempsey
Mark Twain is supposed to have said, “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” If he were in Michigan today, he might say, “Every politician talks about the water, but no one does anything about it.”
More than 22 years after the signing of a regional pact to protect the Great Lakes and 10 years after a Canadian company proposed to capture and ship 50 freighters per year of Lake Superior water to Asia, Michigan politicians have yet to pass foolproof legislation to conserve water. Rather than protest to them, we decided to turn to the people of Michigan and visitors to the state and appeal to their love of water.
It’s our hope that our new book, The Waters of Michigan, will add to the momentum for strong and permanent action to protect the water riches -- economic, aesthetic, ecological and spiritual –- of the Great Lakes state.
Published by Michigan State University Press, the book is not a policy brief, history, diatribe or cost accounting of Michigan’s water prospects. Instead, it’s an attempt to portray in feeling professional imagery – and spoonfuls of factual information – just how magnificent the water resources of the state are.
Photographer David Lubbers has contributed more than 75 art photographs that depict Michigan waters in all their variety – seeps, wetlands, creeks, rivers, falls, lakes snow, ice, mist and rain. Writer Dave Dempsey has linked the photographs to captions that place those waters in context. Should Michigan be known as the Land of More than 10,000 Lakes? Is it true the freshwater shoreline of Michigan is almost as extensive as the Atlantic shoreline of the U.S.? How deep a swimming pool would cover the 48 contiguous states if the Great Lakes were spilled out over them?
In a sense, our book is the peace-loving equivalent of the “shock and awe” strategy famously adopted by military strategists in the planning for the 2003 Iraq invasion. We are convinced the awe inspired by the beauty of Michigan’s waters and the shock of statistical measures are two of the most potent resources in the campaign to win their protection. We’re convinced that the people of the state and the many who come here to vacation and recreate feel that awe and that shock.
And we want to believe that our public officials will act
to translate those feelings into permanent protection and conservation for the
state’s incomparable waters.
As Michigan’s longest-serving governor, William G. Milliken, says in the book’s foreword, “Water has been central to my life. I was born in Traverse City close to the shores of one of the most beautiful bays in the Great Lakes. Time and again over the years I have returned to the water's edge for renewal and refreshment of spirit. For over 50 years, my family has lived in a house overlooking that bay, where we can keep track of its many moods and its majesty.”
Almost every resident of Michigan enjoys that same relationship to water. Our hope is that The Waters of Michigan will spur them to even greater appreciation – and action. One such action is to tell their elected officials to pass a law to protect water now.
David Lubbers of Grand Rapids has previously published two books of photographs, Abiding, Landscape of the Soul, and Persistence of Vision. He has photographed in Michigan and elsewhere for the last 40 years.
Dave Dempsey is author of three books, former environmental aide to Governor James J. Blanchard and former policy director of the Michigan Environmental Council. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.