Saving the Bay, Fighting Climate Change: Two Sides of the Same Coin

19-Nassawadox Creek-credit-Gordon-Campbell-ataltitudegallery.com-695x352

A team of early morning kayakers navigates Nassawadox Creek, a Chesapeake Bay tributary on Virginia’s Eastern shore.

Gordon Campbell/ataltitudegallery.com

In 2018, record breaking storms across the Bay watershed increased pollution loads, adding more stress to a system still dangerously out of balance. Do the storms represent a "new normal?"” Only the future will answer that, but we do know that such weather events are the characteristics of climate change as predicted by scientists for 30 years.

The damage caused by the extreme weather could have been far worse, were it not for the Bay’s increasing "resilience." This internal resilience is the result of decades of regionally coordinated, science-driven, strategies to save the Bay. The benefits, if the effort can be sustained, are huge.

Healthy estuaries are the first line of defense for coastal areas worldwide, providing protection from climate change impacts. And the queen of the world’s estuaries, Chesapeake Bay, is strategically placed at the heart of America's mid-Atlantic region, home to nearly 20 million people.

From sponge-like marshes that absorb storm tides to underwater grass beds that buffer shorelines from heightened wave energy, a healthy estuary offers multiple ecological and economic benefits.

Estuarine systems are particularly effective at capturing and sequestering carbon. Underwater grasses and emergent marshes capture and hold carbon. Moving further upland, forested buffers along stream banks cool waters while also trapping carbon.

Examples of where one plus one can equal three include:

Sustainable agricultural practices are keeping nutrients and sediment out of rivers and streams. They are also improving soil health. Heathier soil traps more carbon.

Clean Air Act regulations reduce nitrous oxides. They improve water quality and human health while reducing heat trapping greenhouse gases. Air emissions contribute 30 percent of all nitrogen pollution to the Bay.

Oyster reefs filter the water (up to 50 gallons per adult oyster), provide superb habitat for multiple Bay species, support jobs and Bay culture, all while providing invaluable buffering to shoreline erosion and flooding.

Examining all the benefits estuaries provide, the importance of our work to save the Bay takes on even greater relevance. Human-induced climate change is threatening our communities, our economy, and our health. Mitigating climate change and implementing the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint are two sides of the same coin. Each reinforces and adds value to the other.

The Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint is working. Experts from around the world are looking at it as a model for systemically improving water quality. But it's more than that. Saving the Bay is also a model for tackling global climate change. We must not, we will not, back down.

Will-Baker_PhotoByMichaelBusada_90x110.jpg

William C. Baker

President, CBF


Issues in this Post

Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint   Agriculture   Best Management Practices   Climate Change   Eastern Oysters   Sustainability   Wetlands Protection  




DISCLAIMER

PLEASE READ OUR TERMS OF USE

The views and opinions expressed in the media, articles or comments on this site are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by CBF and the inclusion of such information does not imply endorsement by CBF. CBF is not responsible for the contents of any linked Web, or any link contained in a linked Web site, or any changes or updates to such Web sites. The inclusion of any link or comment is provided only for information purposes. CBF reserves the right to edit or remove any comments and material posted to this website and to ban users from the site without notice. Partisan, pornographic or other inappropriate content, product or service promotion, foul language or bad behavior is expressly forbidden and will be removed.


Decades of Success: The 1970s

Even as a young organization, our work was effective and got noticed. Find out what we did.

Explore Our Timeline

Stay Up-to-Date on Bay News

Want to stay up-to-date on all news and happenings in your region and across the Chesapeake watershed? Join our digital community.

Sign Up
x
This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Agree