It’s Only a Model
Chesapeake Bay Progress Systematically Overstated
Since the Chesapeake Bay Program — an alliance of the feds and several states — signed an agreement in 1987 to revitalize the ailing bay, it has been reporting steady progress, sapping local outrage and deferring lawsuits from enviros. Turns out, while the computer model that program scientists use to predict pollution has shown dramatic improvement, the actual bay — the one with the water in it — hasn’t. U.S. Geological Survey water-monitoring data shows that the two pollutants (nitrogen and phosphorus) targeted by the program have shown almost no decline since the mid-1980s. Critics claim that misleading info released by the program was more than an innocent mistake; it demonstrates “an institutional bias to show progress,” said J. Charles Fox, former secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Scientists generally praise the model, but some claim that actual monitoring, rather than modeling, should be the standard. Seems like a bit of a head-slapper to us.