When the Bay's Health Earns a "D" Who Gets Grounded?

Sotb My kids bring their interim reports home from school this Friday, and I'm expecting to see a few low grades working their way a bit higher. I'm trying to get my son and daughter to understand that everything counts. Falling behind in the routine, like not turning in homework assignments, will torpedo their grades as surely as if they didn't prepare for a test. And not preparing for tests, regardless of how well they think they already know the subject matter, will inevitably come back to bite them.

202096 Unfortunately, another report came home today, and the grades didn't improve. CBF released its annual State of the Bay report, an index of 13 indicators of the Bay's health. This year the Bay brought home a disappointing grade of "D." Not a single indicator improved from last year, and three dropped still further. If my son brought that report card home he'd lose Playstation privileges for a month.

It's not just the grade. If my son or daughter is getting low grades because they are having difficulty with the subject I know that's something we can work on together. But if the grades reflect work that just isn't being done or effort that just isn't being exerted, that's unacceptable.

That's what makes this year's State of the Bay report so frustrating—it doesn't reflect a lack of skill, it reflects a lack of will.

At a press conference this morning, CBF President Will Baker put it this way:

"The Chesapeake Bay Program has been acclaimed as a model federal/state partnership. Unfortunately, the federal participation has been a model of failure under this administration. While our governors and legislators at the state and federal level have achieved important victories in recent years, the Bush Administration has made no contribution toward the pollution reduction goals in the Chesapeake 2000 Agreement. In fact, they have issued regulations that allow coal fired power plants to continue to spew mercury and nitrogen when this should have been prohibited under the Clean Air Act long ago. And while the states have increased funding to improve sewage treatment, President Bush has cut funding."

Science has given us the plan we need to turn things around. Our elected officials need to act on it.

On Wednesday, the Chesapeake Executive Council will meet to evaluate the state of the Bay. We are asking them to publicly announce timetables for the programs they will implement to complete their commitments. Will they chose to continue the politics of postponement or will they take action to save the Bay?

Global warming: "Strongest evidence yet"

NASA's Earth Observatory Friday issued two press releases revealing new evidence for sea level rise and climate change. On the same day, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) adopted a summary for policymakers entitled "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis."

Experts say the Chesapeake Bay could rise up to three feet by the end of the century. (Granted, this isn't exactly new news; see the Bay Journal from Dec. 2004.)

What to do?

Last month, Congressman Wayne Gilchrest (MD-1) and Massachusetts Congressman John Olver, co-chairs of the House Climate Change Caucus, reintroduced the Climate Stewardship Act (HR 620). This is the third year Gilchrest and Olver have introduced the bill, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions to 70% below their 1990 levels by 2050.

What do you think its chances are this year?

Who's Watching the Rising Tide?

The Baltimore Sun Business section today features Zoe Johnson, a coastal planner with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Johnson studies shoreline erosion and other effects of rising sea levels and climate change. Thirteen Chesapeake Bay islands have disappeared over the years, and the water level in the bay is rising at a rate of about a foot per century, twice the national average.

For more information on Maryland shoreline changes, including an interactive map, visit Maryland ShorelinesOnline.

Bob Doyle, columnist with the Cumberland Times-News looks at how the bay formed 35 million years ago.