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Maryland Farms and the Health of the Chesapeake Bay

Md_morning_avenir_2Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast broadcast this interview on July 23. The 2007 Federal Farm Bill may give Chesapeake-area farmers $150 million to prevent runoff into the Bay and its watershed.  Nathan Sterner is joined by Doug Siglin, Federal Affairs Director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and US Representative Christopher Van Hollen (D-MD), who worked on the bill in the House of Representatives, to discuss the effects on Maryland farmers and the Chesapeake Bay.
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Climate Change and the Chesapeake

Climatechange Today, CBF issued "Climate Change and the Chesapeake," [pdf] a report highlighting the challenges facing the watershed and recommending needed actions. The challenges come from rising water temperatures, which harm underwater grasses and deplete dissolved oxygen levels; and higher sea levels, which could drown wetlands and bays, including environmentally critical wetlands.

Fortunately, the fight to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause climate change is not unlike the challenge we face in cleaning up and restoring the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. And many of the solutions are the same. The agricultural conservation practices necessary to remove the Bay and its tributaries from the nation's "dirty waters" list will also sequester substantial amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, according to a recent Yale study [pdf]. CBF is urging officials to include more farm assistance money for the Bay region in the federal Farm Bill being reauthorized this year and has just been successful in getting the historic Resource Enhancement and Protection Act authorized in Pennsylvania.

"Agriculture clearly is not the only option," says CBF Senior Scientist Beth McGee. "We need to do other things, but the advantage of agriculture is we can do it now."

For more information, we have also added new climate change information to our website.

Sarbanes Proposes "No Child Left Inside" Legislation

by Kim Ethridge

My daughter and I recently drove out to my son's Boy Scout camp in Dublin, MD. Once off I-95, the drive becomes quite relaxing and scenic. After passing several wide open fields, my daughter said, "I like it out here. There's lots of room to run around." Then she continued, "Mom, I'm really an outdoors type. I'd rather spend my time outside than inside...except when there's a computer or game console around."

We hear the statistics a lot. The most recent one I heard was that most kids spend an average of six hours in front of a screen of some kind and four minutes outside. They call it "environmental deficit disorder." I've read articles by the dozens over the past few months about the importance of getting our children outside.

But there's more to it than just getting kids to play in the park or the backyard. Major environmental challenges confront our nation and the world, and our children's generation will—must—play a major role in finding solutions. To do that, and do it effectively, they will need to be environmentally literate. The Environmental Literacy Council defines this as having "a fundamental understanding of the systems of the world, both living and non-living, along with the analytical skills needed to weigh scientific evidence and policy choices." Our children aren't going to breathe that knowledge in as they run through the local park. They need to be taught.

Nclb_press_event_071607_052 On Monday, Rep. John Sarbanes (MD-3) joined the No Child Left Inside Coalition on the beach at CBF's Merrill Center to announce H.R. 3036, the No Child Left Inside Act, which would give environmental education its fair share of attention in the nation's schools and would require states to develop goals for "environmental literacy" of graduates, and, yes, provide grant money for education and teacher training.

I know the impacts the current "No Child Left Behind" act has had on our teachers—not all of them good. I have seen many of my own children's teachers frustrated with "teaching to the tests." The neat thing about environmental literacy is that it can be incorporated into the math and reading curriculums. Many examples already exist, like the Chesapeake Bay Program's "Bay B C's: A multidisciplinary approach to teaching about the Chesapeake Bay." (download the PDF)

What do you think?

When College Ends, So Does Activism. Or Does It?

One of CBF's goals is to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to take action in their own communities. In his article, When College Ends, So Does Activism, Adam Donster looks at how politically active college students (most today with hefty student loan payments looming) are virtually forced to abandon their activist efforts after college because the available jobs pay so poorly. Nonprofit Online News captures the conundrum for nonprofits, saying "we are pouring people's passion down the drain."

Do environmentally active students face the same dilemma? What do you think?

Can one roll of toilet paper change the world?

Toilet paper, that ubiquitous and apparently indespensable component of modern life, is often manufactured by cutting down the world's forests. In Canada, clear-cut logging claims half a million acres of Ontario and Alberta's boreal forests each year with much of the destruction earmarked for virgin paper tissue products. Similar activity is taking place in the Southeastern U.S. Recently, Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council have started campaigns to educate the public on the environmental impacts of using these kinds of products. See kleercut and nrdc. The good news is that all of this industrial pressure for tissue products can be avoided simply by using recycled paper toilet tissue.

In fact, if every household in the U.S. replaced just 1 roll of virgin toilet paper with just 1 recycled roll 424,000 trees would be saved

Many Americans still believe that recycled content toilet tissue couldn't possibly be comfortable to use—that is, until they try it. To prove the point, Greenline paper is offering a free sample of its Eco-Soft 100% recycled toilet tissue to every interested reader free of charge. Just e-mail them at and ask for a free toilet paper sample. Please include your mailing address.

Now, let's change the world 1 roll of toilet paper at a time!