solar panelsTackling the Climate Change Challenge

As a conservation organization, Cecil Land Trust takes the threats, challenges, and opportunities presented by climate change seriously. Educating the community about climate change means a better response more quickly for our community.

“Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals¹ show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position.” Read more

A changing climate will affect the whole Chesapeake Bay including our county. “Some effects—like rising seas, warming water temperatures and prolonged periods of extreme weather—have already been observed in the region. Other impacts include a rise in coastal flooding and shoreline erosion and changes in wildlife abundance and migration patterns.” Read more

 

Kilby Farm, protected by a conservation easement, proactively addresses climate change

The Kilby Farm methane digester converts greenhouse gas, methane, produced from cow waste and organic products to green energy to run the farm.

cow

How it works:

The manure from Kilby Farm dairy cows is flushed into a lagoon using recycled wash water. The solids are separated from the liquid with the goal of capturing the volatile solids from the manure because that is what contains the methane. Those volatile solids are transferred to another lagoon that is tightly covered because it is an anaerobic digester. Anaerobic means that the oxygen must be eliminated.

The volatile solids (in a liquid form) are mixed with food waste (cranberry juice and cafeteria leftovers) to feed methane producing bacteria. The lagoon is like a giant stomach and we want it to produce methane gas. The absence of oxygen makes that possible because if oxygen was present, the bacteria would produce different gases.

The methane gas is pumped from the lagoon to a nearby motor. The similarity of methane gas to natural gas allows us to run a natural gas motor to produce electricity that powers our facilities. We are converting gas from the decomposition of cow manure and food waste to electricity.

 

Methane digester
Methane digester
Methane digester
Methane digester

 

Check out these sources for climate change and its impact on agriculture:

“Staff at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) have been told to avoid using the term climate change in their work, with the officials instructed to reference ‘weather extremes’ instead.  A series of emails obtained by the Guardian between staff at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation, show that the incoming Trump administration has had a stark impact on the language used by some federal employees around climate change.”  Read more 

“Climate disruptions to agriculture have increased. Many regions will experience declines in crop and livestock production from increased stress due to weeds, diseases, insect pests, and other climate change induced stresses.”  Read more

“Climate change effects over the next 25 years will be mixed. Continued changes by mid-century and beyond, however, are expected to have generally detrimental effects on most crops and livestock. As temperatures increase, crop production areas may shift to follow the temperature range for optimal growth and yield, though production in any given location will be more influenced by available soil water during the growing season. Weed control costs total more than $11 billion a year in the U.S.; those costs are expected to rise with increasing temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations.” Read more

 

Maryland responds to climate change:

The Maryland General Assembly took a significant step toward combatting climate change and achieving cleaner energy in the State during its 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions. First passed by the legislature in 2016 and vetoed by the Governor, the Clean Energy Jobs and Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards Revisions Act became law when the General Assembly voted in its 2017 session to override the veto.

The Act’s main requirement is to increase the pace and proportion of the state’s renewable energy standards. Prior legislation had required that 20 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by the year 2022; the Clean Energy Jobs Act requires that 25 percent come from renewable sources by 2020.

The General Assembly found that the public benefits of electricity from renewable resources include long-term decreased emissions, a healthier environment, increased energy security, as well as decreased reliance on and vulnerability from imported energy sources. Accordingly, the legislature enacted the increased renewable energy standards to establish a market for electricity from renewable resources in Maryland and to lower the cost to consumers of electricity produced from those resources.

The standards increase over time until the 25% required in 2020, with specified percentages required each year from particular renewable energy resources. Specific percentages are required to come from solar, hydroelectric and wind, as well as from a category that includes multiple renewable resources, including qualifying biomass, methane from the anaerobic decomposition of organic materials, geothermal, ocean, poultry litter-to-energy, waste-to-energy, etc.

For more information, view the official legislative summary  and a Baltimore Sun article  summarizing both the legislation and its passage.

 

  1. J. Cook, et al, “Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming,” Environmental Research Letters Vol. 11 No. 4, (13 April 2016); DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/048002

Quotation from page 6: “The number of papers rejecting AGW [Anthropogenic, or human-caused, Global Warming] is a miniscule proportion of the published research, with the percentage slightly decreasing over time. Among papers expressing a position on AGW, an overwhelming percentage (97.2% based on self-ratings, 97.1% based on abstract ratings) endorses the scientific consensus on AGW.”

J. Cook, et al, “Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature,” Environmental Research Letters Vol. 8 No. 2, (15 May 2013); DOI:10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024

Quotation from page 3: “Among abstracts that expressed a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the scientific consensus. Among scientists who expressed a position on AGW in their abstract, 98.4% endorsed the consensus.”

W. R. L. Anderegg, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol. 107 No. 27, 12107-12109 (21 June 2010); DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1003187107.

P. T. Doran & M. K. Zimmerman, “Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” Eos Transactions American Geophysical Union Vol. 90 Issue 3 (2009), 22; DOI: 10.1029/2009EO030002.

N. Oreskes, “Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change,” Science Vol. 306 no. 5702, p. 1686 (3 December 2004); DOI: 10.1126/science.1103618.