Sustainable Tuesdays lecture discusses Chesapeake Bay restoration

Jennifer Dindinger spoke about climate change’s effect on the Chesapeake Bay at the UMD School of Architecture on Feb. 20. Photo by Ally Tobler

By Ally Tobler

As part of the Sustainable Tuesdays series, water restoration specialist for the Maryland Sea Grant Extension Program, Jennifer Dindinger, led a discussion Feb. 20, titled “Sea Level Rise and the Chesapeake Bay.”

According to the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, by 2050, Chesapeake Bay water levels will increase as much as two feet. Dindinger said global warming is to blame for this expected rise.

“We’re putting too much [CO2] in the atmosphere, and it’s making the ‘greenhouse blanket’ too thick,” Dindinger said. “By 2100, there will be drastic changes but it’s hard to get people to care.”

Dindinger delineated a few issues that the Chesapeake Bay would face as sea levels rise, including the struggles of relocating coastal citizens, the changes in the “biological composition” and salinity of the water,  which could affect Maryland’s crab population. More facts and figures about Chesapeake Bay culture and how rising sea levels will affect this area can be found on the Maryland Sea Grant’s website.

“[The bay is] a major economic driver that brings a lot of tourism and supports livelihoods and incomes in Maryland,” said Dindinger, citing information found from the Maryland Sea Grant.

Dindinger said one strategy for preventing destruction of the bay would be to give state and local governments the right tools to plan and adapt.

“[The Chesapeake Bay area] is a very independent place,” Dindinger said. “Sometimes there’s a hesitation to look to the government for a funding opportunity. They don’t want anyone in Annapolis telling them what to do.”

According to President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget proposal for the Environmental Protection Agency, cleanup funding for the Chesapeake Bay will be cut by 90 percent from $73 million to $7.3 million.

“We’ll have to wait and see what Congress restores. Every dollar matters,” architecture professor Ralph Bennett said. “[Restoration] is not going to be as effective unless there’s federal oversight.”

In January, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced proposed legislation that would continue to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.

Sustainable Tuesdays, which is in its sixth year, is sponsored by the University Office of Sustainability and a class, ARCH289i: Sustainability, taught by Bennett. The lectures focus on subject matter including global warming, food sustainability and student sustainability initiatives at this university.

“Although this class is about sustainability in College Park, it often reaches outside of campus and focuses on sustainability in other areas,” freshman civil engineering major Adam Deutch said.

For the rest of the semester, the class will feature lecturers from the Department of Dining Services, Transportation Services, Department of Facilities Management and  the National Center for Smart Growth, among others.

“The way the university is dealing with [sustainability] provides an example for any large institution to deal with sustainability,” said Bennett. “The Big 10 universities are a little shy about comparing themselves to each other, but I’m pretty certain that Maryland is near the top of the Big 10 universities when it comes to managing sustainability.”

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