This chapter introduces the Dark Green vs. Light Green theories and how the Dead Political Zones come into the mix. With Dark Green, one side of thought is that humans are part of nature and that the human-nature divide is an artificial construct, which is destructive for both humans and nature. But this idea is not entirely about conserving the area, but about asserting the human “right” of being able to experience nature. Light Green is more about holding ourselves responsible for what we do to and in our surrounding environments. With this theory, we have to be more apt to compromise to changes and ways to help. On the other side, Cornucipians might desire to behave in an environmentally friendly behavior, but they don’t view themselves responsible for protecting nature. For this area, the Chesapeake Bay is considered a political dead zone because it is “a political environment that has been robbed of its political will, the equivalent to oxygen in a natural system, and consequently no longer support meaningful environmental innovations” (10). This approach has not been successful in conserving the Bay. The oyster industry is near collapse, crabs (like me) are stressed, there’s mercury in the water, and there is no money for improvements.
The second chapter discusses the different ways individuals and groups have tried to save the Bay and what has come from it. But this area needs environmental management to help fix the issues that are currently present or ones that will appear in the future. There have been several attempts, though, to manage the Bay – the 1960s with the US Army Corps of Engineers, the 1970s with the county commissioner from Calver County, Maryland, and promises made by presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter to improve/protect the Bay. Political dead zones like the Bay are really dangerous because politicians have failed to protect one of the largest estuaries which can end up affecting the rivers and streams that flow off of the Bay. Whenever my family and I drive to Delaware, we go over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and I’ve noticed that every summer there seem to be less people sitting on the beach or swimming in the water.
The last chapter was written by guest writers who are all activists and advocates for the Bay. These individuals are engaged in their own “advocacy jubilee” (75) and have struggled with in the political dead zone in the efforts to achieve environmental policies for the Bay. Anne Pearson discussed how she was trying to get community planning off and running for her own community to better combat issues within her community. This plan did not work out, but she learned how empowering it can be to protect a community’s heritage landscape and history. Gerald W. Winegard writes about his fight to ban phosphorus’ and nitrogen from cleaning detergents since those had been documented as the major culprits in the Bay’s decline. Tyla Matteson wrote about fighting against a planned reservoir that would cut through historic native land and could possibly fail, endangering lives. Mike Shay wrote about protesting the introduction of Safeway stores in his area and how the addition of such store would affect the surrounding community and the Bay. The last guest writer, Bernie Fowler, stressed that rivers are “microcosms” of the Bay and that all the rivers go to the Bay, so if the Bay goes, so do the rivers.
I found this reading to be really interesting because I live so close to the Bay. I wasn’t entirely aware of everything going on with the Bay but did know how bad it has started to become. I found the last chapter to be really interesting with everyone’s suggestions and see what locals to the Bay have done to help protect it.