Previous month:
July 2010
Next month:
September 2010

August 2010

Skeptic of Global Warming Makes Spectacular U-Turn

Lomborg The winds of change may be blowing through the climate change debate.  At a time of sadly decreasing public support for government action on global warming, suddenly one of the world’s best known climate skeptics -– none other than Bjorn Lomborg, author of the book The Skeptical Environmentalist –- is executing a spectacular U-Turn.

In a new book to be published next month, Lomborg concludes that global warming is "undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today" and "a challenge humanity must confront” by investing $100 billion a year to fight climate change pollution over the next century, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.

Continue reading "Skeptic of Global Warming Makes Spectacular U-Turn" »

Crabby Weather: Favorable Weather Conditions May Have Contributed to the Bay's Blue Crab Boom

Bluecrab2 Mother nature may have lent a helping hand to government regulations in causing a rebound in the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crabs over the last two years. But it was not the only hand, as new conservation policies gave the beautiful swimmers a primary boost, crab researchers and regulators say.

Weather conditions favorable to the survival of blue crab larvae appear to have assisted in the more than doubling of Bay blue crab populations that was also driven by restrictions on catching female crabs imposed by Maryland and Virginia in 2008, according to scientists with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.

However, the Chesapeake Bay’s neighboring states to the North and South along the Atlantic have no evidence that they experienced as large a jump (if any) in crab populations as Maryland and Virginia. North Carolina and Delaware have not imposed new crabbing restrictions in the last two years. And the lack of similar crab population increases in North Carolina and Delaware suggests that the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab boom was not solely due to good weather, as some critics of the Bay’s crabbing restrictions have claimed.

The implication is that Maryland and Virginia’s protections for female crabs are, in fact, valuable for the Chesapeake’s ecology and economy -– and should be kept in place.

“First we clearly benefitted from regulations, and then we benefited from a combination of regulations and mother nature,” said Lynn Fegley, assistant director of the Fisheries Service at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Continue reading "Crabby Weather: Favorable Weather Conditions May Have Contributed to the Bay's Blue Crab Boom" »

Rural County Steps Back From Development Brink

Northumberland County, nestled on Virginia’s remote Northern Neck peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, has backed away – at least temporarily -- from what could become the largest development project in the county’s history.Bluff Point aerial

Last night the Northumberland Board of Supervisors voted to defer a decision on the proposed Bluff Point development, which if built would add virtually another town of people and plop hundreds of houses, shops, cars, and boats down in the middle of one of the county’s most sensitive environmental areas.

Postponing the decision was a good thing. This massive development, the brainchild of Charlottesville developer Tom Dingledine, would forever change Northumberland County, among other things increasing traffic congestion and the demand for county services.

Continue reading "Rural County Steps Back From Development Brink" »

Hotly-Debated Clean Water Bill Called an Example of "Political Courage."

Siglin Critics of the proposed Chesapeake Clean Water Act, now pending in Congress, recently wrote in The Baltimore Sun that that the legislation “would do more harm than good." In response, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s director of Federal Affairs, Doug Siglin (shown above), penned a rebuttal, which makes the case that passage of the bill sponsored by Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and colleagues is critical because it would require pollution reductions from all sources and create new financial incentives to clean up the nation's largest estuary.

Continue reading "Hotly-Debated Clean Water Bill Called an Example of "Political Courage."" »

Adding Noise Pollution to Hybrid Cars

PriusApparently, silence is not always golden. Hybrid cars, like the Toyota Prius and others, are a boon to the environment because they burn less gasoline and spew less air pollution into the atmosphere and Chesapeake Bay. But another graceful aspect of their design is that they also emit less noise pollution... or at least they did, until now.

Continue reading "Adding Noise Pollution to Hybrid Cars" »

The False Mystery of the Blue Crabs

Bluecrab3 Let’s not create a great mystery about the Chesapeake's blue crabs where there is none.  Any false sense of scientific uncertainty about what happened to the beautiful swimmers could be used to undermine the very successful crabbing restrictions that Maryland and Virginia imposed two years ago, and that would be a tragedy.

An editorial this morning in the (Salisbury, Md) Daily Times claimed that the reason for the more than doubling of the Bay’s blue crab populations over the last two years is “debatable.”  The newspaper said it “isn't clear what factor is primarily driving the recovery” of the blue crabs, or what caused the nearly catastrophic two-thirds decline in crabs between 1990 and 2007.  Just two years ago, the state of the blue crabs was so grim -- with numbers near record lows -- that the U.S. Secretary of Commerce declared an economic disaster, making watermen eligible for emergency relief payments.

Continue reading "The False Mystery of the Blue Crabs" »

Metals In Boat Paints May Harm Life in Bay

Boat There’s something foul about these anti-fouling boat paints.

A scientific study has concluded that anti-fouling boat paint is the likely source of copper pollution levels high enough to harm aquatic life in the Choptank River, a Chesapeake Bay tributary.

For centuries, copper-based paints have been applied to some boat hulls to protect them from barnacles and algae growth. But since the 1980s, the application has become even more common because U.S regulators restricted the use of another anti-fouling agent, called tributyltin (or TBT), which was found to be highly toxic.

But copper, a naturally-occurring element, can also be poisonous in certain concentrations and often leaches out of boat paints.

Continue reading "Metals In Boat Paints May Harm Life in Bay" »

Smart Buoys Tell the Tale of Bay Pollution

Bay Daily readers will recall last week’s report of the algal blooms that created “mahogany tides” in the lower Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads during the first few weeks of August.

_MG_4948small The algal blooms – explosive growths of algae spawned by hot weather and excessive nutrient pollution flowing into the Bay from a variety of sources -- turned waters a dark brown, smelly mess in Hampton Roads creeks and rivers. Dramatic aerial photographs documented the troubling extent of these blooms.

Also documenting the blooms and their insidious effects on the waters of the Bay were the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System, often nicknamed the Bay’s “smart buoys.” That’s because they’re jam-packed with gizmos constantly checking water, wave, wind, and weather conditions. The buoys thenCanon Folder 044 beam the data to computers that anyone anywhere in the world can access online. You can even call the buoys by telephone and “talk” to them to get real time data and conditions.

Continue reading "Smart Buoys Tell the Tale of Bay Pollution" »

Surprise: Bay Pollution Regulations Healthy (Not Fatal) for Small Business

Jones Anti-regulatory extremists have hijacked the recession as an excuse to try to gut environmental regulations, claiming that free enterprise requires a free hand to climb out of the pit.

But the story of the Jones family illustrates the opposite. It shows how pollution control rules can actually build up small businesses and put cash in the wallets of hard-working families, even as the regulations keep human waste out of the streams where our children play.

For more than 20 years, Dwayne and Lisa Jones ran a profitable home septic system installation and clean-out business in Bel Air, Maryland, as a husband-and-wife team, with their son, Don, as a field manager.

Then almost three years ago, the recession slammed their lives.

Continue reading "Surprise: Bay Pollution Regulations Healthy (Not Fatal) for Small Business" »