The Chesapeake: An Environmental Biography

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Part of the problem in dealing with public perceptions about Chesapeake Bay is that people think it will last forever. This obviously is not true. As oceanographer Jerry Schubel has noted, twenty thousand years ago there was no Chesapeake Bay. Since that time, "There have been other beginnings and endings of other Chesapeake Bays." As we look to the future, however, we can see that increasingly the transformation of the Chesapeake will be more a human phenomenon than a work of nature. We live in times when momentous technological change can alter the face of the planet; and in the depressing words of Bill McKibben, we have already stepped across the threshold of such a change; we are at the end of nature. In the years since the Civil War and most recently since World War II, we have brought about unwelcome changes, literally altering and killing a good deal of the bay's ecosystem. As theologians tell us, we cannot have a cheap grace. Neither can the bay have a future worthy of its name as an overused, polluted and derelict seascape.
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Editorial Reviews

Forward Magazine
Wennersten’s careful research and obvious concern for the region show clearly in his reasoned discussions of the multitude of problems facing the area, as conservationists continue to battle with special-interest groups over how best to ‘save the Bay.’

— Marlene Satter

Forward Magazine - Marlene Satter

Wennersten’s careful research and obvious concern for the region show clearly in his reasoned discussions of the multitude of problems facing the area, as conservationists continue to battle with special-interest groups over how best to ‘save the Bay.’

"The Bay is a signal system. If we can't save it, we can't save any of our estuaries."
Institute of Natural Resources, Solomons Island
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780938420750
  • Publisher: The Maryland Historical Society
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Series: Maryland Historical Society Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,490,885
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Chapter 1 The New World Environment of Chesapeake Bay 3
Chapter 2 Tobacco Culture and Deforestation 38
Chapter 3 Ecological Transformations: Agriculture, Internal Improvements, and Town Development 69
Chapter 4 The Age of the Oystermen and the Tragedy of the Commons 109
Chapter 5 Engineering, Pollution, and Conservation: Early Problems of Chesapeake Bay Management 140
Chapter 6 Is the Chesapeake Dying? 177
Chapter 7 Epilogue: The Changing Chesapeake 217
Bibliographical Note 235
Index 243
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