Dec. 2, 2008 by Shana Campbell Jones

The Chesapeake Bay Dead Zone Needs a Ref

Chief Justice Earl Warren once said he always turned to the sports section of the newspaper first. “The sports page records people’s accomplishments,” he explained. “The front page has nothing but man's failures.” The Chesapeake Bay has been in the news a lot lately, and its fans aren’t cheering. When it comes to Bay cleanup efforts, front-page failure – not a jolt of inspiration – is the order of the day.


Despite 25-plus years of study and effort, the Bay is dying. Its oyster population has been devastated, down to just 2 percent of its average level in the 1950s. Blue crab levels hover 30 percent below the annual average from 1968 to 2002. The cause of the Bay’s slow but sure death is all too well understood: Excess nutrients – phosphorous and nitrogen – from agriculture, urban and suburban runoff, and sewage treatment plants stimulate algae growth, which, in turn, sucks critically needed oxygen from the Bay’s waters. The result is a “dead zone” in the Bay that stretches to cover as much as 40 percent of its waters in summer months. 


Meanwhile, as if the state of the Bay’s health weren’t grim enough, EPA and …

Nov. 18, 2008 by Shana Campbell Jones

Bigfoot lives, and he’s not hiding out from the paparazzi somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. He drives more than 630,000 vehicles. He is the largest consumer of energy in the United States, costing taxpayers about $14.5 billion. He generates about 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide yearly, approximately 1.4 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gases per year. Who is Bigfoot? He’s Uncle Sam, our very own federal government. And he’s got a carbon footprint bigger than all of Belgium, Greece, Sweden, or Vietnam.

President-elect Obama and the 111th Congress know that legislation to reduce U.S. carbon emissions is sorely needed. But the President need not wait for Congress to act to make a difference, or to send a message to the public and the world that real change is coming. Bigfoot needs a smaller shoe size. It is …

Nov. 6, 2008 by Shana Campbell Jones

You can never step in the same river twice, the saying goes. According to a new report about how climate change is expected to affect the Chesapeake Bay, that saying may become truer than ever.


In Climate Change and the Chesapeake Bay, a group of scientists and water quality experts found that, because of climate change, “the Bay’s functioning by the end of this century will differ significantly from that observed during the last century….” The report concluded that affects of climate change are already occurring and that “certain consequences” are likely:

  • The mean and variance of sea level will increase, elevating the likelihood of coastal flooding and submergence of estuarine wetlands;
  • Warming and higher CO2 concentrations will promote the growth of harmful algae, such as dinoflagellates;
  • Warming and greater winter-spring streamflow will increase hypoxia;
  • Warming will reduce the prevalence of eelgrass, the Bay’s …

Oct. 30, 2008 by Shana Campbell Jones

Next year, Congress is all but certain to try to tackle climate change legislation again, and the stakes are higher than ever. Further delay in federal action would only compound the problem. But while Congress has been sitting on its hands for more than a decade, many states have taken action, seeing climate change not only as an environmental threat but also as an economic development opportunity.


Last week, for example, New Jersey Gov. John Corzine released an “energy roadmap” designed to drastically cut the state’s emissions and create 20,000 green jobs between now and 2020. This spring, the Washington State Legislature passed Gov. Christine Gregoire’s “Climate Change and Green Collar Jobs” bill, which will establish a “rigorous planning process for reducing greenhouse gas emissions statewide” and create 25,000 green jobs by 2025.


California, in particular, has led the way. On October 15 …

Oct. 24, 2008 by Shana Campbell Jones

Earlier this month, and after six years of delay, EPA announced that it had decided not to regulate perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel and munitions that has leached into water supplies in various parts of the country, often near military bases. As it happened, the announcement came just a few days before the release of a new study on the subject that demonstrates that EPA’s lack of action may be even more disastrous than environmentalists and children’s health advocates previously thought.


Perchlorate blocks iodine “uptake” to the thyroid gland, thus interfering with the critical role iodine plays in the thyroid’s work, which includes controlling the burning of energy, the body’s sensitivity to hormones, protein production in the body and more. Compromised thyroid function in infants and children can result in behavioral problems and lower I.Q.


The study, released October 17, is …

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