Even though most people consider the Chesapeake Bay to be a national treasure, this widespread agreement and much hard effort haven’t been enough to improve the health of the ailing bay over the last quarter century.
A whole new approach to managing its ecosystem will be needed to bring about real improvement as the region’s population continues to grow, the author argues. It will involve everyone working together.
Smith and a group of scholars from several disciplines have studied how heavily populated ecosystems can remain economically and environmentally sustainable. As a teaching and learning tool, they developed an innovative computer program called the U.Va. Bay Game.
The major factor affecting the future of the bay is population growth in its watershed, Smith writes. The total population of the bay’s watershed, currently 17.4 million, is projected to grow to 20.3 million in the next two decades.
Smith advocates a new approach for addressing the sustainability of a complex socio-ecological systems such as the Chesapeake Bay.
If the region’s residents care about the bay, they must recognize that “there are limits,” he says. “There is a time when our social systems, including our socio-ecological systems, will need to grow better. The way things were done in the past is no longer relevant and we need to think smarter.”