SustainabilityThe Town Creek Foundation is committed to helping the State of Maryland exceed its ambitious goals to reduce its pollution of the Chesapeake Bay and its greenhouse gas emissions. We are working closely with many partners who are sharply focused on these goals, and our commitment is shaped and informed by their dedication and diligence.

Our commitment is also informed by our understanding that a dying Bay and a changing climate are dramatic symptoms of broad systemic dysfunction. We may experience them as local events – dead zones, vanishing marsh, silted streams, and disappearing islands – but they are also manifestations of a global system in crisis. This is a system in which political and economic logics drive the depletion of resources at rates beyond which they can be replenished, and the generation of wastes at rates beyond which the biosphere can absorb them. This ecological imbalance is the signature of the climate crisis, the deforestation crisis, the desertification crisis, the water crisis, the fisheries crisis, and, yes, the dead zones in the Bay.

Embattled ecosystems are prone to producing dramatic waves of economic and political instability. Our current ecological crises are having extraordinary consequences for us all as they reverberate and ramify through our interconnected global system. We do not believe that Maryland can be immune from these impacts, but we do believe that it can become more resilient to them. Maryland’s ambitious initiatives to restore the bay and reduce our global warming footprint are important steps towards greater sustainability and resilience, but they are not enough.

These initiatives are consensus products of a particular political moment. They are powerful because they are well calibrated to shrewd calculations of how much change this particular political consensus will bear.

While this consensus empowers these initiatives it also limits their reach. For the most part this consensus ignores the consequences of planetary finitude, operating as if ‘balancing the economy and the environment’ can and should mean protecting our ecological systems while also continuing to consume and dispose of ever increasing amounts of ‘stuff’.

Bringing the economy and the environment into balance does not mean protecting the environment only so long as doing so won’t undermine economic growth. It means right sizing and reorganizing the economy so that it can sustain itself on a finite planet. In an increasingly unstable, crisis-prone world true sustainability and resilience will require fundamental transformations of the systems (including the value systems) by which everyday life is organized. Preeminent amongst these are the systems by which we create and consume energy, food, and materials; and the systems by which we make and enforce social decisions.

The Town Creek Foundation is committed to helping promote progress towards true sustainability and resilience for Maryland. In support of this commitment we are making grants to help promote public dialogue about the systemic challenges that the State faces, and to help leaders and emerging leaders better understand and pursue the transformational opportunities facing Maryland in the 21st Century.