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Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Fall Speaker Series to focus on climate change

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., will begin its annual fall speaker series on Wednesday, Oct. 14, and continue on select Wednesdays through Dec. 2. All sessions will be held virtually, and advance registration is required.

With climate change a global reality, the Chesapeake Bay is one of the most vulnerable areas to warming temperatures, rising sea levels, and increased storm intensities. This year’s fall speaker series, titled Climate Change in the Chesapeake, explores the connection between science and culture, looking at how communities are adapting to build climate resilience.

The speaker series kicks off on Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 2pm with “Chesapeake Climate Science for the Non-Scientist.” How will a changing climate impact the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and all of the people and creatures that call this place home? In this session, Bill Boicourt, Professor Emeritus at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, will explore current understandings from climate science research to help participants better understand the changes happening throughout the region, from increasing river flow, to rising sea levels, to impacts on the atmosphere, the forests, and the creatures that live in the Bay.

“Engaging Waterman Heritage in Climate Change Adaptation Planning on the Deal Island Peninsula” is scheduled for 2pm on Wednesday, Oct. 21. The Deal Island Peninsula is deeply rooted by local watermen heritage, which has for generations helped local families navigate living and working in a dynamic coastal environment. This heritage also helps frame local understandings about climate change vulnerabilities and resilience. In this session, Liz Van Dolah, Coordinator of the Deal Island Peninsula Partnership, will share insights on how watermen draw upon their heritage in discussions about climate change, and how local heritage understandings can be harnessed to help facilitate adaptation planning that supports local resilience needs and goals.

At 2pm on Wednesday, Nov. 11, CBMM will present “Protecting Nature, Strengthening Communities: The Role of Land Conservation in Climate Resilience.” As sea level rises, temperatures warm, and precipitation patterns change, it is imperative that we protect land and natural resources across the Delmarva Peninsula. Jim Bass, Coastal Resilience Program Manager at Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, will discuss the role of land conservation in the region’s climate adaptation work, which forms the cornerstone of ESLC’s newest and largest initiative: Delmarva Oasis.

In America, COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting people of color with higher morbidity and mortality rates, but this is not the only pandemic impacting these populations. The nation’s most polluted and high poverty areas are often highly racially segregated, contributing to another pandemic: the differential impacts of climate change. In “Environmental Justice During a Syndemic: Challenges and Opportunities for Social Change” at 2pm on Wednesday, Nov. 18, Dr. Sacoby Wilson, University of Maryland Associate Professor of Applied Environmental Health, will highlight some of the challenges presented during this syndemic, explore how climate change will worsen the health outcomes for frontline and fenceline communities, and discuss how community engagement can improve the lives of people of color and other differentially impacted groups.

The final offering in the series, “Climate Change & Racial Justice: The Resilience & Vulnerability of African American Communities on the Eastern Shore” will be held at 2pm on Wednesday, Dec. 2. Climate change is fundamentally a racial justice issue, as both the responsibility for causing climate change and the vulnerability to its impacts vary by race. The story of Smithville—a historic African American community in Dorchester County—illustrates how cultural legacies of racial discrimination have unfairly increased the vulnerability of Eastern Shore African American communities to climate change impacts. Join Smithville native Rev. Roslyn Watts and University of Maryland anthropologists, Dr. Christy Miller Hesed and Dr. Michael Paolisso, as they discuss the rich history of Smithville and their work to build coastal resilience to climate change.

The cost per session is $7.50 per person, or $6 for CBMM members, who are offered a 20% discount on all programming. Register online for all five sessions for an additional discount. To sign up, or for more information, visit

The last house on Holland Island is awash during a high tide in 2009. The house is now gone, along with much of the island that was once home to a thriving community. Most of the inhabitants left around the time of the Spanish flu in 1918. Digital image, 2009, featured in Where Land and Water Meet: The Chesapeake Bay Photography of David W. Harp, opening at CBMM in September. Photograph by David Harp.