Maryland and other places around the world seek to fortify and improve coastlines in the face of climate change.
Since 1970, Earth Day has called attention to pressing environmental issues the world over while commemorating significant achievements in conservation and activism. For Earth Day’s 45th anniversary, the Earth Day Network will focus on coastal cities, as many are projected to experience a dramatic increase in the frequency and severity of tidal flooding.
Projections estimate that by 2030 these regions will experience at least 24 tidal floods a year, due to extreme weather patterns, and by 2045 sea levels will rise a foot above current levels in coastal communities. Thus, many coastal cities are on the forefront of climate adaptation efforts.
This year, Earth Day Network’s 8th annual Global Day of Conversation Campaign will work with government officials to implement policies and create climate adaptation plans to help these communities adapt. The Earth Day Network describes the Global Day of Conversation as ÛÏa forum for leaders to engage with their constituents on environmental challenges and opportunities facing their communities. It also provides a platform for leaders to announce new policy commitments related to sustainability, stewardship, and smart growth.Û
In the United States, one state that has spearheaded efforts is Maryland, which is home to 3,000 miles of coastline.
Maryland’s Chesapeake & Coastal Service (CCS) seeks to find a balance between protecting coastal resources while allowing surrounding communities to prosper. The coastal zone encompasses two-thirds of the state’s land area and is home to 70 percent of Maryland’s residents, providing a unique challenge to conservation efforts.åÊ The state has a two-phase adaptation plan that includes preparation for rising sea levels and coastal storms along with land investments and habitat restoration.
Initiatives include stream restoration, removing invasive plant species and replacing them with native flood- and drought-resistant species, and replacing dilapidated or hardened shorelines with ÛÏliving shorelines.Û
The CSS partners with many local, regional, and state agencies to manage an area that includes thousands of miles of coastline that border the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, and the Potomac River. One initiative is CoastSmart Communities, a grant program in partnership with the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) dedicated to assisting Maryland’s coastal communities in addressing short and long-term coastal hazards, such as coastal flooding, storm surge, and sea level rise.åÊ Residents of these communities can receive training, tools, and information to help reduce their vulnerability.
Currently, the CSS is working with the city of Baltimore on adaptation strategies to ÛÏreduce the negative impacts of coastal storms, flooding and sea level rise on homes, business and livelihoods within Maryland’s coastal communities.Û
The Global Day of Conversation is an important part of Earth Day’s mission, as discussions like these call attention to pressing environmental issues and help develop solutions that are both practical and sustainable.