In the 1940s, scientists concerned that the world was headed for nuclear holocaust unveiled a clever graphic called the Doomsday Clock.
Given the recent news that Asian carp DNA has been found in Lake Erie — and that the invaders could live in all five Great Lakes — I believe it’s time for a new tool to convey the severity of this catastrophic threat to the world’s largest freshwater ecosystem.
Behold, the Asian Carp Doomsday Clock.
Using the latest scientific information, I will use this clock to relate the risk of Asian carp colonizing the Great Lakes. (My daughter, Jessica, gets the credit for designing the clock).
The Asian Carp Doomsday Clock strikes midnight if reproducing populations of these invaders are found in any of the Great Lakes. Anglers have snagged individual Asian carp in Lake Erie and Lake Huron in the past, but as far as anyone knows the fish are not reproducing anywhere in the Great Lakes.
The Canadian government on July 12 unveiled a study that said Asian carp would likely enter Lake Michigan and that it could take as few as 10 male and 10 female Asian carp to start a reproducing population in the Great Lakes.
That study was especially troubling because it came just days after U.S. scientists discovered more Asian carp DNA in waters directly connected to Lake Michigan.
The next day, on Friday the 13th, scientists announced the discovery of Asian carp DNA in Lake Erie. One of the researchers said the finding most likely means that Asian carp have reached the lake.
It’s important to note that schools of live Asian carp are still 50 miles from Lake Michigan and more than 100 miles from Lake Erie, according to government scientists.
Still, the discovery of Asian carp DNA in Lake Erie and repeated findings of DNA in waters connected to Lake Michigan suggests an invasion may be imminent.
Where do you think the dial should be set on the Asian Carp Doomsday Clock? Please post your comments below.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently studying the best way to keep Asian carp in the Mississippi River system from entering lakes Michigan, Huron, Superior, Erie or Ontario.
The $64,000 question is whether the Corps of Engineers can finish its study and implement solutions before Asian carp lay siege to the Great Lakes.
It’s a race against time. The Asian Carp Doomsday Clock is ticking.