Intensification, Industrialization, and Environmental Impacts

The intensification and industrialization of the Chesapeake Bay watershed (and the rest of the world) has proven to lead to positive and negative outcomes for humans and the environment. We learned about these factors during Journey One, in which we discussed history and sense of place, as well as the following week when discussing the Chesapeake Bay environment.

During Journey One, our trip to the Baltimore Museum of Industry gave us an inside look on how industrialization shaped the Chesapeake Bay today. We learned how capture and use of energy has changed over time, highlighting a shift towards more efficient water energy since the mid-18th century (Seidel). Steam powered energy drove machinery, which led to the creation of factories. This led to the mass production, mass markets, and the growth of a consumer culture (Seidel). This caused major change in how we used the land and water to gain our own resources. People will always want more, and more in a faster time; again leading to more depletion and destruction of the now “built” environment. With all of this population grows, and we use technology to raise our carrying capacity…in turn we have made dramatic impacts on environment (Seidel).

All of these major shifts and changes regarding our land and water usage led to the U.S. environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s. This movement helped establish acts, policies, and laws to help govern and regulate environmental quality. Since this time, society has begun to place better ethical and moral judgement and value onto the environment. This has caused a continued change in our ethic concerning the chesapeake bay, the environment, and the earth.

There are no easy answers or solutions to environmental problems for a number of reasons. Lewis Moncrief places the blame on these factors, “There is no moral direction towards the treatment of natural resources. There is an inability from our social institutions in adjusting to environmental stresses. We have a lasting faith in technology”. These factors apply to one of today’s biggest issues: climate change. Change in climate occurs in natural cycles over time, but the recent rate of change is extremely concerning. This is due to: “correlation to the rise in carbon dioxide levels, the link to the green house gas effect, and the obvious changes to the world due to humans” (Hardesty). Climate change is causing problems worldwide, and is hitting close to home in the Chesapeake Bay.

Not only does the Bay have many environmental issues (many of which may stem from climate change), there are issues with political concentration and cooperation in dealing with the watershed environment as well. “The political ecology of the Chesapeake does not support clear centralized leadership” (Hardesty). 6 states and Washington D.C. make up the Chesapeake Bay watershed and they all act as governing political bodies towards policy and regulation, making it difficult to come to conclusions on those environmental topics and issues (Hardesty). For now the best we can do is to look at the bigger picture ethically. Everything in the environment is interconnected and full of patterns. The best solution to these complex and connected issues is one that “causes a ramifying series of solutions… and solves more than one problem that doesn’t create new problems” (Berry). It is up to us solve for these patterns and then preserve them.

References

Berry, Wendell. Solving for Pattern.

Hardesty, Mike. Lectures: September 2015.

Moncrief, Lewis: The Cultural Basis for Our Environmental Crisis, 1950.

Seidel, John. Lectures: September 2015.

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