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Great Lakes Futures Project to meet in Michigan (UPDATE)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan will host dozens of Great Lakes researchers, advocates and policymakers Wednesday at its Ann Arbor campus for a meeting of the Great Lakes Futures Project.

The consortium of universities and institutions in the U.S. and Canada is developing plans for long-term research projects to protect and restore the Great Lakes.

More than 75 Great Lakes researchers and others are expected to attend this week’s meeting, hosted by the U-M Water Center.

Participants will discuss forces that shaped the Great Lakes region in the past and those that will shape it over the next half-century, including climate change, energy, economics, water quantity, biological and chemical contaminants, invasive species and demographics.

In October, Michigan and 20 other U.S. and Canadian research institutions announced they were joining forces to propose a set of long-term research and policy priorities to help protect and restore the Great Lakes and to train new scientists, lawyers, planners and policy specialists.

The Great Lakes Futures Project of the Transborder Research University Network “will use a cross-disciplinary, cross-sector approach to outlining alternative Great Lakes futures through science-based scenario analysis,” University of Michigan spokesman Jim Erickson said at the time.

About 35 million people, or 30 percent of the Canadian and 10 percent of the U.S. population, live in the Great Lakes region, the university said.

“This is a critical time to bring together scholars and practitioners from across the region to chart a more protective future for this precious resource,” said Donald Scavia, director of Michigan’s Graham Sustainability Institute.

The Great Lakes basin’s economic output is at least $4 trillion, and its population is expected to grow by 20 million people over the next 20 years, Erickson said.

According to Erickson, the project is starting with “white papers outlining critical drivers of change in the Great Lakes basin over the past 50 years and the next 50 years, including climate change, the economy, biological and chemical contaminants, invasive species, demographics and societal values, governance and geopolitics, energy and water quantity.”

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