The Future Chesapeake
Shaping the Future
J. R. Schubel
The Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary. After slow deterioration for several centuries, the Chesapeake Bay Program was launched in 1983 to restore it.
After spending more than $24 billion, the results of the restoration program are disappointing.
The Bay Program has arrested the decline of the Bay, but it has failed to achieve its restoration goals—something that will become more challenging with climate change.
The rate of environmental change today is more rapid than at any time in the history of humanity. The concept of restoration—to return to an earlier time and condition—is an outmoded concept for coastal ecosystems like the Chesapeake Bay that are at the leading edge of change.
A better strategy would be to focus on shaping the future Bay. While we cannot create the future Bay, we have many of the tools to shape it, tools that have never been used as a complement to existing efforts.
Learn about the past and present of the Bay, how climate change will affect its future, and how we can intervene to shape the future of the Chesapeake.