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Environmental science

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Part 1.

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Chapter 1 and 2.

Read the attached article (at the end of this document)concerning the Chesapeake Bay.Use information from that article to answer questions 1-3.

1. Sustainability is the use of resources in such a way that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. What mightsustainable development look like in the Chesapeake Bay?

2. Our text describes various ‘services’ provided by natural systems (list I Chapter 3). Give specific examples of several ecosystem services provided by the Chesapeake Bay. Name the type of service and then state the example.

3. There are three common environmental attitudes towards the environment that are identified in the text. Identify a stakeholder (someone with a particular interest in a topic or issue) in the article that fits each of the environmental attitudes identified in the text.

Chapter 4.

4. State the first and second laws of thermodynamics.Describe how the laws of thermodynamics relate to environmental issues or problems.

5. Answer these questions about atoms:

a. What happens to atoms during a chemical reaction? What holds these atoms together?

b. Describe how energy is associated with chemical reactions.

6. Describe how solids, liquids and gases differ from one another at the molecular level.

7. Are all kinds of energy equal in their capacity to bring about changes? Why or why not?

Part 2 – In Depth Response

Select one of the prompts below to answer in more detail. You must provide an appropriately cited source (using APA format)to help with your response. One or two paragraphs should suffice.

A. The article below is over 10 years old. What are the current social and political factors surrounding the Chesapeake Bay that may impact the environment? Briefly discuss. Hint: Funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program has recently been cut dramatically.

B. Identify and briefly describe an environmental condition in the Chesapeake Bay region that is affecting people’s health.

C. Globalization is a concept described in the text. Is globalization apparent in the Chesapeake Bay region (Maryland, Delaware, Virginia)? Identify and describe an issue that is related to globalization. Hint: possibilities include exotic species, immigration, labor force and the crabbing industry, foreign trade, etc.

Can We Save Both Blue Crabs and Watermen?

Jennifer M. Rhode

Georgia College and State University

Chesapeake Bay lies in the mid-Atlantic region of the East Coast of the United States, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. In 2001, commercial watermen harvested over 270million kilograms (600 million pounds) of Chesapeake Bay seafood; blue crabs made up about 10 percent of this harvest. At its peak, the Chesapeake Bay blue crab seafood fishery was worth more than $150 million per year. Since the mid-1990s, however, the bay’s crab population has dropped precipitously and now hovers around its all-time recorded low.

In response to alarming declines in crab abundance, the Bi-State Blue Crab Advisory Committee, a group of scientists and managers from Maryland and Virginia, recommended a 15 percent reduction in baywide harvest between 2001 and 2003. Implementation has been slow, and the future of this species, the fishery, and the watermen who harvest crabs for a living remains in limbo.

Increased fishing pressure has contributed to the decline in blue crab populations. Chesapeake Bay oysters are too scarce to produce a commercially viable yield, so watermen who historically fished both oysters and crabs now focus their efforts exclusively on crabs. Technological improvements have made commercial crab harvesting more efficient, increasing the rate of crab capture. Crabbing has also become a more popular pastime among the burgeoning population of Chesapeake Bay’s watershed.

Other sources of crab mortality have also reduced the number of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs. First, the numbers of predators have increased. Both Maryland and Virginia imposed a total moratorium on striped bass fishing from the mid-1980s until 1989, allowing fish populations to increase. Since crabs compose up to 50 percent of the striped bass diet, increasing numbers of these voracious predators might be expected to cause a concomitant decrease in blue crab numbers. Second, crabs have become more vulnerable to predators. Juvenile blue crabs rely on seagrass beds for camouflage to protect them from predation, but increased nutrient pollution of Chesapeake Bay caused mass die-offs of seagrasses in the 1960s and 1970s. Although these plant populations have begun to recover, seagrasses now cover less than 3 percent of the bay’s bottom. Finally, nutrient pollution can result in dramatic decreases in oxygen levels, causing crabs to suffocate. Anecdotal evidence supports this, as the incidence of “crab jubilees” (mass exoduses of crabs from water onto land) seems to be increasing.

Declining crab populations might also be a result of decreasing crab birthrates. Some studies have shown that there are too few female crabs to sustain historic population numbers, and the number of eggs per female has decreased. Male sperm counts have also decreased. Either of these factors might negatively impact the number of new crabs produced each year.

So, the current decline in crabs could be attributed to a number of individual factors but is probably a combination of more than one of these. Who is to blame for this problem? How can crab populations be restored? Opinions vary widely.

The states that border Chesapeake Bay have criticized one another for contributing to the blue crab crisis. Maryland claims that Virginia has had a disproportionate impact on crab populations by allowing the capture of mature female and egg-carrying crabs, as well as the capture of smaller crabs that have yet to reproduce, and permitting year-round crabbing. Virginia, in turn, cites its establishment of spawning sanctuaries (started in 2000) and the fact that Maryland catches more crabs as evidence that Virginia is not negatively impacting crabs.

Watermen claim that the decline in crabs is cyclical, exacerbated by the harsh winter of 2002 and Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Restricting crabbing or trying to convert the industry to aquaculture will destroy the traditional way of life that they and their families have maintained for hundreds of years, they say. The watermen fault the recreational fishermen for catching too many crabs and blame state regulatory agencies for allowing striped bass populations to increase.

Recreational crabbers claim the right to use state waters, citing that they already have to buy crabbing licenses and obey strict size regulations and catch limits. They counter the claims of watermen with statistics: For example, the recreational catch in the 2001-2002 season was less than 13 percent of the commercial harvest.

Scientists acknowledge the watermen’s observation that crab abundance is often cyclical. However, they say that these depressed population levels have lasted too long to be due to natural causes. They also present data showing that, in the past, populations of both striped bass and blue crabs were higher. Thus, the presence of these fish does not automatically depress crab numbers. Scientists think that the solution to declining crab populations is to create sanctuaries and habitat corridors, places where crabs can live and reproduce without threat of capture. Some environmentalists go even further, stating that use of this natural resource should cease completely, and be replaced with aquaculture.

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