The Dismal State of the Great Lakes:
An Ecologist's analysis of why it happened,
and how to fix the mess we've made


by James P. Ludwig, Ph.D (October, 2013)

Hardcover, ISBN 978-1-49310-620-2

Paperback,  ISBN 978-1-49310-619-8

eBook, ISBN 978-1-49310-621-9

133 pp.

Available at

Description: "Ludwig tells powerful stories about places, people and environmental issues. He narrates with unflinching honesty his experiences investigating and tracking down the culprits in continuing environmental contamination. He rises to meet the beauty and grace of the Great Lakes with lively tales of decades out on their waters as a researcher. This book is an indispensable part of the Great Lakes literary canon."—Dave Dempsey, author of On the Brink: The Great Lakes in the 21st Century, and The Blanchard Connection.

   "Ludwig has written a monumental compendium about the largest source of fresh water in the world, a life support system whose function he reveals has been under siege. It reflects what happened as peer reviewed science, public health, and common sense were set aside and corporate-creep infected the chambers where policy decisions are made. It also parallels the same problem where humanity is now under siege from a growing list of epidemics of endocrine-disorders--the problem first reported by Ludwig and his cronies back in the early 80s."—Theo Colborn, Ph.D, President, The Endocrine Disruptor Exchange.

Table of contents:

  • Glossary of Technical Terms and Acronyms (pg. 7)
  • Foreword and Dedication (pg. 11)
  • I. Chronology and events of an ecologist's career (pg. 15)
  • II. The legacy of persistent contamination (pg. 88)
  • III. Perspective (pg. 113)
  • IV. Navigating the uncertain future of Great Lakes stability (pg. 136)
  • V. Are Great Lakes Water Quality Agreements Substantial or Illusions? (pg. 176)
  • VI. A proposal to implement the Boundary Waters Treaty by a Great Lakes Governance Compact (pg. 211)
  • VII. A final word (pg. 225)
  • Epilogue (pg. 235)
  • Literature cited (pg. 241)
  • Appendices (pg. 263)

About the author: James P. Ludwig was born in Port Huron, Michigan in 1941 and is a dual Canadian-American citizen. He earned a Ph.D at the University of Michigan in 1968 and published 52 peer-reviewed articles on chemical contamination and the ecology of the Great Lakes between 1961 and 2013, focusing on colonial waterbirds. He collaborated with many government and academic scientists from both the US and Canada for over forty years and watched the inexorable deterioration of the Great Lakes under neo-liberal governments of both nations. He continues to monitor changes in Great Lakes' bird populations and their ecology, relating these environmental changes to public policy during his (semi-)retirement years.

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