Published April 22, 2013
Aquatic Life , Conservation , National Aquarium , National Aquarium in DC , News
Tags: baltimore sun, clean air act, clean water act, climate change, Conservation, earth day, earth day 2013, endangered species act, environmental protection agency, John Racanelli, national aquarium, National Aquarium CEO, national aquarium in baltimore, sylvia earle
The following is an excerpt from National Aquarium’s CEO John Racanelli’s piece in today’s Baltimore Sun:
For over 40 years, Earth Day has sent a powerful message: that each of us has both the capacity and the duty to support the environment that sustains us. This is certainly a message that dedicated conservationists can get behind, but what about everyday people with busy lives, kids to raise and jobs to keep? For many, Earth Day has become a day of celebration rather than an urgent call to join a movement.
Earth Day Network, the organization behind Earth Day, cites the impressive statistic that 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. Participants plant trees, clean streams and resolve to recycle more. In schools around the world, students spend several weeks learning about the planet and how they can make a difference.
What really matters, though, is what people do the day after Earth Day — and for the 363 days after that. Earth Day was born out of a desire to do something. In 1970, 20 million individuals from all walks of life united to protest the deterioration of the environment, and the results included the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act. Why can’t Earth Day 2013 be the start of this same kind of sea change?
My colleague Sylvia Earle, a renowned oceanographer whom Time Magazine called a “Hero for the Planet,” has said that the next 10 years may be more important than the last 10,000 in determining the fate of our oceans. She may as well be talking about the fate of humans. It may not be the planet that needs saving so much as we do.
To read more of John’s call-to-action, click here.
How are you celebrating Earth Day? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter using #EarthDay!
On the 25th anniversary of the Chesapeake Bay restoration effort, The Baltimore Sun reported that a group of over a dozen of scientists and activists have released a statement to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program calling for a more aggressive commitment to cleaning up the bay. Sun reporter, Tim Wheeler, has also blogged about this subject showing a dramatic image illustrating the poor health of the Bay.
This plea for better tactics and enforceable measures is not the first, and certainly won’t be the last one presented to officials charged with bay restoration. Officials at the National Aquarium are standing in line with all of the Chesapeake Bay advocates encouraging mandatory, enforceable measures put in place in the areas of agriculture, zoning, development, wetland restoration, the list goes on.
The Aquarium’s conservation team and volunteers spend endless hours each year restoring wetlands in and around Maryland and educating visitors on watershed health. And there are countless organizations leading their own charges, doing their part to “Save the Bay”.
The message has been made clear. Voluntary efforts to restore the bay have not succeeded. The bay’s importance to the 15 million people whose waters drain to it, from Washington, D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and as far north as upstate New York, cannot be overstated. We now know that better results over the next 25 years will only be seen through the creation of consistent, mandatory practices.
The Baltimore Sun recently reported on an alien mussel species that was found in the Susquehanna River by a fish survey team. (click here for full story) In short, a single zebra mussel was scooped from inside a water intake pipe and is now being tested for positive identification. Invasive species experts fear that a larger population of this species could be growing, a species that is capable of clogging public water systems and hydro-electric dams, destroying native species of mollusks, and causing millions of dollars in damage.
Researchers at the National Aquarium agree that large populations of zebra mussels could lead to big problems for the Susquehanna River, however, it should be noted that this species will most likely not survive in the salty waters of the Chesapeake Bay. This invasive species is a known for its rapid population growth in the Great Lakes. Therefore, it is possible that zebra mussels could expand into the upper Bay in springtime when salinities are very low. So if the species were able to adapt to living in brackish water, its spread throughout the Bay would be devastating to the already struggling oyster industry.
The present threat, however, is on the native species of the river. If populated, the zebra mussels would settle and grow on the native mollusks species, eventually completely covering and killing them. We saw this in the Great Lakes, and unfortunately, the only tactic left to prevent some of the native mollusks from going extinct was to remove them from the wild to refuge situations. So, finding invasive species and removing them before they spread is very crucial.
Continue reading ‘In the News: invasive species poses threat to waterways’