Ellicott City, Again

Early Sunday evening of the 2018 Memorial Day weekend a flash flood once again decimated the historic mill town of Ellicott City, Maryland. Flood levels of up to 24 feet exceeded those experienced less than two years earlier on July 30, 2016.

On visiting Ellicott City, Maryland Governor Hogan said “Nobody expected another storm of this magnitude to come two years later because, as I said, they’re supposed to happen every 1,000 years.” … Keep reading

Time Is Not on Our Side

This commentary appeared as a “Point of View” in the New Orleans Times Picayune on Earth Day, Sunday, April 22, 2018.

Both the New Orleans Times-Picayune and The Washington Post recently carried prominent stories about newly published research on how the Mississippi River built the land that underlays much of Louisiana’s Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.… Keep reading

Science, State Governments and New Realities

I spent the entire afternoon of Wednesday, March 6 in a public hearing on a docket of bills filed in the House of Delegates of the Maryland General Assembly, our state legislature. The hearing was before the House Environment and Transportation Committee. I was there to offer testimony on a bill on sea-level rise inundation and coastal flooding, but the docket was filled with other bills that ranged from public ethics law to an exception to wearing orange for hunters on their own land.… Keep reading

My Inextricable Involvement With Offshore Oil

For more than 40 years it seems that I have been inextricable involved with issues surrounding offshore oil and gas development. Much like the tar baby of West African folklore, the more I have struggled to move onto other things, the more I have been drawn back into more engagement.

I grew up in south Louisiana, where the vast majority of U.S.… Keep reading

Global Warming Building Deltas . . . but in the Wrong Places

Most of the world’s coastal deltas, such as the Ganges-Brahmaputra, Mississippi and Nile, are shrinking because sea level is rising faster than new sediment can be deposited. Deltas naturally subside over time as the thick layers of sediment brought down by their rivers compress and push down on underlying rocks. To make matters worse, this subsidence has increased in many places because of removal of subsurface oil, gas and water.… Keep reading

Rock Stars and Shell Games

Over the last ten years, I have served on the Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission. Maryland has had several oyster commissions going back to 1882, a commentary on the unrelenting contentiousness in managing this iconic, but dwindling resource. The present commission is charged by a 2007 statute to “review the best possible science and recommended changes to the framework and strategies for rebuilding and managing the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.”… Keep reading

Shrinking Gulf Dead Zone Requires Allocation and Accountability

Last week I was in New Orleans, where I was born and raised, on a one-day trip for a meeting at Tulane University, my alma mater. It also happened to be my birthday.  While there, I participated by phone in Iowa Public Radio’s River to River program, live during the noon hour.… Keep reading

Clams, Cows and the Media

By now a compulsive user of Twitter, I responded to a tweet from fellow aquatic ecologist tweeter Michelle McCrackin (a.k.a. @iheartnitrogen), who does a great job tracking the latest papers and news related to coastal and Baltic Sea ecosystems. Michelle included a link to a BBC story headlined “Baltic Sea clams ‘giving off as much gas as 20,000 cows.”… Keep reading

Decompressing on the Roanoke River

A week after turning over the helm as president of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES), I spent several restful days with my family at a cottage on Lake Gaston, along the Virginia-North Carolina border. I had not been there before, but chose the site because it allowed our daughter and her two girls to come up from Raleigh to spend a couple of days with us.… Keep reading