The morning program was dedicated to a series of presentations by investigators who have studied environmental trends and conditions in the Black River. These were intended to provide the audience with a perspective on progress that has been made in restoring beneficial uses in the Black River and to set the stage for discussions in the afternoon on next steps to continue progress. The first speaker was Don Schregardus, Director of Ohio EPA, who set the stage for the entire symposium with historical perspective on water quality in the Black River and management challenges for the future. The next presentations were by environmental scientists on the staff of the Ohio EPA - Division of Surface Water who reported on results from an intensive chemical and biological water quality survey conducted on the Black River in 1997. Paul Anderson discussed findings concerning water quality in the ship channel and Roger Thoma reported on the current status of fish communities and habitat in the river. These were followed by presentations by Paul Baumann of the U. S. Geological Survey and Ohio State University who discussed trends in the incidence of liver cancer tumors in brown bullhead found in the Black River, and by Allen Burton of Wright State University who discussed results of a study of toxicity of Black River sediments aimed at assessing the effectiveness of contaminated sediment dredging operations. Russ Gibson of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - Division of Natural Areas and Preserves ended the session with a report on his recent investigation of the Black River's potential for designation as a State Scenic River.
Protecting What's Been Gained in The Black River
Donald Schregardus, Director of Ohio EPA
I am happy to welcome all of you to the Black River Area of Concern, particularly those of you new to the RAP process and the Water Quality Board. I know the Water Quality Board has long been familiar with the problems of the Black River through their initiation and support of the RAP program. I know they've also been following some of our progress as the Board's Sediment Priority Action Committee included the removal of PAH contaminated sediment adjacent to USS/Kobe property as a case study in their white paper on sediment remediation.
This meeting site is the same location where we held the public kick-off for the Black River RAP back in 1991. We also met with the IJC here in 1994 to discuss their review of the Stage 1 Report for the Black River RAP. The IJC gave that Stage 1 Report a pretty favorable review, acknowledging the Black River RAP Coordinating Committee for all the effort, coordination, and collaboration that went into preparing that report. I'm happy to see a number of you here today who were at that initial meeting back in 1991. We certainly appreciate your continued commitment to this long-term process.
Many of you know that I spent the early years of my career working on the Black River out of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Eastern District Office in Westlake. As in many of our state waterways, point sources directly to the Black River caused severe pollution problems. Regulatory and enforcement actions have reduced or eliminated the worst impacts of point sources (i.e., discernable sources of pollution such as a factory pipe) by mandating upgrades to sewage treatment plants and placing stronger restrictions on industrial dischargers. Indeed, the RAP Stage 1 report concluded that most of the remaining problems are now associated with nonpoint sources (i.e., sources of pollution in which pollutants are discharged over a widespread area or from a number of small inputs rather than from distinct, identifiable sources), particularly in the upper watershed.
Based on the results of the Stage 1 report, the RAP adopted a riparian zone restoration initiative focused on protecting and restoring the areas directly adjacent to the river. Protecting these areas would also require implementation of programs throughout the watershed to prevent pollutants from reaching the riparian zone in the first place.
In 1997, a strategic plan was developed by the RAP that included a number of activities to reduce nonpoint source impacts. Streambank stabilization projects to slow erosion while enhancing habitat were encouraged. RAP volunteers assisted in designing and installing willow plantings, tree revetments, and other bioengineering techniques to protect the streambanks using natural materials. Projects were implemented at Indian Hollow Golf Course and at several sites in the Lorain County Metroparks.
Also in 1997, in partnership with the Black River RAP, the Lorain County Community Development Department received a grant from the Lake Erie Protection Fund to develop a model township comprehensive plan to address unplanned development and provide alternative approaches to manage growth. This plan would be created from a watershed or ecosystem perspective. It is hoped that such a plan would prevent or reduce nonpoint source runoff in developing areas. It is also anticipated that this plan will be used as a model by other townships in the Area of Concern to develop their own township plans.
Earlier, in 1992, the Black River Area of Concern had been the recipient of a Clean Water Act Section 319 demonstration grant to buy down the cost of conservation tillage equipment, making it easier for farmers to adopt and use methods that would reduce nonpoint source runoff. This project was very successful. Based on the success of the 1992 Section 319 grant, RAP partners worked together to prepare another 319 proposal to support the numerous nonpoint source reduction activities listed in the 1997 strategic plan. In this proposal, the Lorain and Medina County Soil and Water Conservation Districts would work with watershed farmers to implement precision farming technology and install stream conservation practices. John Carroll University would conduct water quality monitoring in the watershed to measure the impact of these conservation practices. The Lorain County General Health District and the Medina County Health Department would inventory and sample home sewage disposal systems to determine where systems were failing. Seventh Generation would coordinate public education and awareness activities, recruit and train volunteer water quality monitors, and provide overall administrative assistance. Ohio EPA and Ohio DNR would provide technical assistance. With the 319 grant and the associated state and local match, this project would provide $570,000 to benefit the Black River watershed.
I am happy to report that this proposal was approved and currently is being implemented. This innovative, collaborative proposal involving many partners working toward a common goal of reducing nutrient, bacterial, and sediment loadings in the Black River watershed is a good example of the type of project that can result from the RAP process.
I've mentioned a few of the past problems in the Black River Area of Concern and what has been done to address them. In following presentations we will hear about the current state of the river and reflect how effective some of these remedial actions have been. But we will also hear that much more still needs to be done to restore all the beneficial uses of the Black River.
Restoring the river will require continued implementation of regulatory and enforcement actions. It may be necessary to develop new regulations or new ways of implementing the old regulations to further reduce pollutant loadings.
Restoring the river will require remedial actions such as re-establishing habitat in and along the river. It will require additional research and monitoring to understand what is happening in the river and how it needs to be fixed. It may require learning new techniques and adopting new management practices.
The Black River RAP process encourages the participation of the local communities in restoring their river. Many times that first means raising the profile of the river and explaining why the river is such an important resource. People need to learn how their actions may be impacting their local rivers. The Black River RAP is currently developing a public education/outreach and marketing plan to help accomplish this.
The concept of community-led and supported efforts to cleanup waterways from a watershed perspective is a tried and true process. Many of the RAPs around the Great Lakes are successfully, if slowly, accomplishing their goals. Similar efforts have helped to address the environmental problems of Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound. There are now a number of watershed groups in Ohio. The Clean Water Action Plan announced by President Clinton early this year encourages the use of locally-led partnerships to restore the 40 percent of U.S. waterways which are still not fishable and swimmable.
RAPs are an opportunity to be creative and innovative in designing and implementing actions to improve environmental quality. As you listen to the presentations this morning, note the progress that has been made, how the progress was made, and where problems remain. The breakout sessions will allow you the opportunity to address particular topics in more detail and consider the additional actions needed to further improve the Black River. This is your chance to get passionate about an issue in your own backyard.
I believe the RAP process can be a strong tool to restore the environment. But it gains its strength from the community that supports it. So I encourage you to be involved and stay involved.
Fish Communities and Habitat Status in the Black River Watershed
Roger Thoma, Ohio EPA
Ohio EPA uses indices of fish communities and habitat as critical elements of a management strategy for Lake Erie tributaries. Most Lake Erie tributaries in Ohio are designated for protection of warmwater habitat. Attainment of aquatic life uses in warmwater habitat is determined by using various biological community performance measures. The Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) is one such index being used to help make a determination on attainment of aquatic life uses in warmwater habitat. The IBI incorporates 12 fish community metrics within three broad categories (i.e., species richness and composition, trophic composition, and fish abundance and condition).
Ohio EPA performs biological and water quality monitoring throughout the Black River watershed. Figure 1 presents a Black River watershed map depicting selected river mile locations on monitored streams (this map can be used in conjunction with other figures presented in this report to help determine river mile location within the watershed). The Black River fish community has been monitored by the Ohio EPA since 1982. Initial data indicated that impacts to biological communities were being strongly affected by discharges in Elyria and contaminated sediment in the Black River lacustuary (i.e., that portion of the river influenced by Lake Erie, approximately the lower six miles of the river), resulting in nonattainment throughout the Black River mainstem. Monitoring in 1992 showed recovery from impacts associated with the Elyria Wastewater Treatment Plant discharge in the mainstem (Figure 2), while the East and West branches were found to be widely impacted from nonpoint pollution (sediment and nutrients) mostly originating from agricultural activities. Further studies in 1997 have shown continued recovery in the mainstem, especially in lotic portions (i.e., flowing water) where attainment of warmwater habitat criteria for fish communities has now been reached. East and West branch fish communities still remained impacted by nonpoint source pollution which is also affecting lacusturine communities. A site at the mouth of the lacustuary was able to reach warmwater habitat status in 1997. Examination of external anomalies (i.e., deformities, eroded fins, lesions, and tumors) in fish has shown a continuing decline for the study period as environmental disturbance has been reduced.
Figure 1. A Black River watershed map depicting selected river mile locations on monitored streams.
Figure 2. Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) data from the Black River (1977, 1982, 1992, and 1997).
Ship Channel Water Quality and Causative Factors
Paul Anderson, Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water
Each year Ohio EPA conducts intensive biological and water quality surveys in 10-15 different study areas. These interdisciplinary monitoring efforts are coordinated on a watershed scale. Each watershed is scheduled to be surveyed approximately every five years. The most recent intensive survey of the Black River watershed was conducted by Ohio EPA in 1997.
Water and sediment quality data from the lower river in 1997 indicate that although concentrations of some pollutants, such as ammonia (NH3-N), have been adequately reduced, significant water quality problems persist. This is mainly due to high concentrations of suspended solids (Figure 3) and other pollutants such as nitrate/nitrite-nitrogen (Figure 4). Loadings of suspended solids from the watershed have resulted in an extremely turbid (i.e., muddy or cloudy with sediment) system which results in an inhibition of primary productivity (i.e., photosynthetic conversion of sunlight into algae) and depletion of dissolved oxygen (Figure 5). The behavior of the lower Black River ecosystem mimics that of a reservoir in that the long residence time of the water in the system leads to thermal stratification, oxygen depletion, and other pronounced differences in water chemistry between surface and bottom waters.
Analysis of sediments collected in 1997 indicates that concentrations of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) have been significantly reduced in the Black River sediments, although residual concentrations remain throughout the lower river. Of significant concern at present are the relatively high concentrations of heavy metals, resulting in poor sediment quality. The presence of elevated heavy metals concentrations in sediments collected from the entire length of the Black River mainstem indicates that sources of these metals to the river exist throughout the watershed and cannot be attributed to any single source.
Figure 3. Concentration of total suspended solids in the Black River, 1997
Figure 4. Concentrations of nitrate/nitrite-nitrogen in the Black River, 1997.
Figure 5. Dissolved oxygen concentrations in the lower Black River as measured by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on August 10, 1998.
Improvement in the Health of Brown Bullhead from the Black River
Paul Baumann, U. S. Geological Survey and Ohio State University
Since 1980, liver tumors in brown bullhead and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in sediment have been researched in a series of studies on the Black River near Lorain, Ohio. In the early 1980s, the liver cancer prevalence in mature fish (age 3 and older) was high, ranging from 22% to 39%. These elevated cancer rates corresponded to high levels of PAHs in the sediment, including human carcinogens such as benzo(a)pyrene. The PAHs were produced in the process of making coke from coal and had been released over a long time period from an upstream coking facility (USX). PAHs are not very soluble in water and thus tend to accumulate in sediment near and downstream from the coke plant outfall.
In 1983 this coking plant was closed and by 1987 the PAHs in the top several centimeters of sediment had declined to about one-hundredth of their former concentration. This decline was probably facilitated in part by deposition of cleaner sediment from upstream over the more contaminated layers. Coincidentally, the liver tumor prevalence in brown bullhead started to decline in 1985, and by 1987 was only about one fourth of that in the early 1980s.
In 1990, some years after a U. S. EPA Consent Decree, the area having the most contaminated sediment (just downstream from the coke plant outfall) was dredged. Surveys for cancer were again conducted in 1992 and 1993. Liver tumor frequencies in mature bullhead were found to be as high or higher than in the early 1980s. Liver cancer prevalence in those two years was between 46% and 48% for mature fish. However in 1994 liver tumor prevalence declined to 9%, with fish of age 3 having no liver cancer at all. These age three fish from 1994 were the first group sampled that were not present during the 1990 dredging. Tumor prevalence increases as fish become older, however fish of age 3 from earlier years exhibited high liver cancer rates (over 30% in 1982).
Data from 1995 and 1996, while based on small sample sizes, indicate that liver cancer prevalence has remained low (8%). A sample of 45 bullhead taken from the Black River this May (1998) had only a single fish (2%) with grossly visible lesions, another indication that the liver tumor prevalence has fallen. Furthermore, the percentage of the bullhead population with livers completely free of any neoplastic changes, including early alterations of liver cells (hepatocellular alterations) strongly supports the view that the population is much healthier (Figure 6). In 1982 only 23.5% of mature bullhead had normal livers and the percentages in 1992 (37%) and 1993 (27%) were almost as bad. However in 1994 68% of the mature bullhead had normal livers and the prevalence of healthy livers increased to (86%) in 1995-96.
These data are consistent with the hypothesis that the increase in tumor prevalence in 1992 and 1993 was caused by exposure to buried PAH-contaminated sediments released by the dredging. However, this increase was restricted to the age groups present in the river during the year of the dredging. Fish hatched in years after the dredging appear to have a reduced cancer prevalence. Evidence to date indicates a major improvement in the health of Black River fish.
Figure 6. Percentage of age 3 brown bullheads from the Black River having various liver lesions.
Assessment of Sediment Quality in the Black River Watershed
G. Allen Burton, Jr. and Carolyn Rowland, Institute for Environmental Quality, Wright State University
The U.S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office funded Wright State University to assess the sediment quality in the lower Black River in collaboration with the Ohio EPA and Dr. Paul Baumann (U. S. Geological Survey). This one year study was designed to assess the effectiveness of the previous dredging activities which were aimed at removing sediment contaminated with polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Wright State University focused on measuring the toxicity of the sediment and overlying water in the lower 8 km (5 miles) of the river and comparing those findings to upstream reference stations. Surficial and deeper buried sediment was analyzed to determine whether contaminant gradients exist in the river. Toxicity testing included both laboratory and in situ field exposures of four aquatic species: Pimephales promelas (fathead minnow), Ceriodaphnia dubia (water flea), Hyalella azteca (amphipod), and Chironomus tentans (midge).
In Fall 1997 a survey was conducted during base flow conditions. The survey revealed a wide range of toxicity existing in the sediment and/or overlying waters. The highest levels of sediment toxicity noted in laboratory exposures occurred at River Miles (RM) 15.0, 2.9, 2.4, 0.9 and 0.4. The East Branch of the Black River RM 18.9, and the lower Black River at RM 11.6, 5.2, 4.8, and 2.3 showed little to no mortality. Growth of the amphipod and midge in the upper reference site was good. Amphipod growth was lowest at RM 0.4, 2.3, and 5.2; while for the midge, growth was lowest at RM 0.4, 2.4, and 9.8. Surficial sediment tended to be less toxic (survival and growth (amphipod only)) than deeper, more historical sediment in most cases. In situ toxicity testing allowed for more realistic exposures to both sediment and overlying waters and showed better survival of organisms overall. However, high mortality of some test organisms was observed at RM 2.3 and 0.4. Initial findings indicated that photo-induced toxicity from PAHs may be a factor at some of these sites, as there was lower survival in near-surface water exposures.
A survey of the indigenous snail, Physella gyrina, in the study area showed genetic patterns indicative of stress at 2 locations. When the DNA pattern of individuals within a population is similar, it suggests the population has been adversely impacted and is less diverse. This loss of genetic diversity can equate to greater susceptibility to stress and general population decline. At RM 5.2 above KOBE and French Creek and in Kline Ditch (a tributary of French Creek), a high degree of genetic similarity was observed. The Kline Ditch area has had water quality problems attributed to nearby fly ash disposal sites (Ohio EPA, personal communication). In addition, there was a significant relationship in the Black River study area between declining fish health (IBI scores) and snail genetic patterns.
In the Spring of 1998, in situ exposures of test organisms during a high flow event showed little to no acute toxicity existing at most test sites. This survey did not focus on sediment, rather organisms were only exposed to near surface waters during very turbid conditions. Photo-induced toxicity due to PAHs is not a factor when turbidity is high. Therefore, the greater toxicity observed at base flow conditions, when turbidity is lower, appears to be a PAH effect. This effect can occur at low to sub microgram per liter PAH concentrations.
The water column acute toxicity at base flow and the sediment acute toxicity (survival and/or growth) observed in the downstream area suggest the PAHs may still be a primary stressor in the lower Black River. Sediment that was several centimeters deep tended to be more toxic than surficial sediment and may be exposed during resuspension events (e.g., storms, boat traffic, dredging). However, chemical analysis of sediment did not show elevated levels of PAHs. Total sediment metal concentrations were elevated and tended to be higher downstream. Acute toxicity during high flow suggests that the impacts of nonpoint source runoff and stormwater inputs are less severe. However, since only acute toxicity was measured, it is unknown whether chronic toxicity may exist due to nonpoint source runoff.
Understanding the Characteristics and Criteria for the Designation of a Scenic River
Russell W. Gibson, Ohio DNR
In May of 1996, the Division of Natural Areas & Preserves (DNAP) initiated a study of the Black River for possible designation as a state Scenic River. A study team was organized. Team members included representatives of the Black River RAP, Ohio EPA, the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Rivers Unlimited, and program staff from the Scenic Rivers Program. Following an eighteen month period of extensive research and literature review, a comprehensive inventory of the Black River watershed was completed and a compilation of findings prepared and published. This information was then analyzed with respect to designation criteria. Following this analysis, it was determined that the Black River failed to meet Scenic River designation criteria and was not recommended for inclusion into Ohio's Scenic Rivers System.
Natural, historic, and cultural characteristics of the Black River were examined and compared to designation criteria. Criteria are designed to evaluate the extent that a river retains its natural attributes and whether or not it possesses unique cultural or historical values of statewide significance. This study assessed the following general characteristics:
Scenic river criteria require that 25% of a stream's length must be forested outward from the river to a width of 91 m (300 feet) or greater. All branches of the Black River were determined to meet this criterion. Riparian corridors along the Mainstem and East Branch were found to be 25% forested while the West Branch exhibited corridors that were 27% forested to a width of 91 m (300 feet).
Warmwater habitat standards(1) (WWH) were employed when evaluating water quality of the Black River for this study. A minimum of 16 continuous kilometers (10 miles) of river must be in full attainment of WWH standards in order to qualify for designation. The longest continuous segment of the river found to be fully attaining these standards was 14 km (8.8 miles) of the East Branch. Terrestrial biological communities including mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians were examined and compiled into an inventory. It was found that the species residing within the watershed are common to most rivers and streams in northern Ohio.
The examination and assessment of aquatic communities included benthic macroinvertebrates and fishes. Ohio EPA's Invertebrate Community Index (ICI) and Index of Biological Integrity (IBI) were employed respectively to determine aquatic community performance. The diversity and relative health of the aquatic communities within the Black River varied widely. Generally, it was determined that fish and macroinvertebrate communities within the watershed are typical of warmwater streams in Ohio and do not approach the diversity of those found in higher quality streams in the region.
In order to qualify for designation as a state Scenic River, a stream must be at least 75% free-flowing. Very little in-stream modification and/or impoundments of the Black River were observed during this study. All branches of the Black River are more than 75% free-flowing.
No more than 10% of the length of a state-designated river may flow through urban and/or industrial areas. The East and West Branches of the Black River met this criterion. More than 9.6 km (six miles) or 20% of the Mainstem flows through heavily urban and industrialized areas. The Mainstem failed to meet this criterion.
Several other important factors were considered during this evaluation of the Black River. In addition to previous criteria, the following attributes were also examined:
The Black River region has a rich and diverse history that became evident throughout this study. Several important prehistoric sites are located adjacent to the Mainstem near its confluence with French Creek. Recorded early European history in the region is also quite abundant, dating back to Jesuit missionaries who resided along the river in 1650.
Two species of state threatened fish reside within the Black River. These include a significant population of the bigmouth shiner (Notropolis dorsalis) found in the headwaters of the West Branch. This population represents one of only two populations of bigmouth shiners found in Ohio. The silver lamprey (Ichthyomyzon unicuspis) has also been collected in the Mainstem. Threatened birds breeding in the watershed include the sedge wren (Cistothorus platensis). Several state endangered and/or threatened plant species also were found in the region.
Public recreational facilities within the watershed are quite abundant. Several Lorain County Metropark facilities located along the Black River enjoy wide popularity and heavy public use. Numerous other city parks, golf courses and public fishing and hunting areas provide substantial recreational opportunities. Unfortunately, wide fluctuations in the flow of the river make canoeing only seasonally practical. Pleasure boating is common in the estuarine portion of the river.
In conclusion, this study identified impaired water quality as the most compelling shortcoming of the Black River with respect to scenic river designation criteria. Causative factors for water quality problems were not examined in this study. However, general contributors such as ongoing loss of riparian corridor and streambank erosion were observed as localized problems on nearly all segments of the river. Additionally, embedded substrates and turbidity caused by sediment and silt introduced from nonpoint sources were observed in numerous stream reaches. There is little doubt that these factors are significantly contributing to impaired water quality.
With improvements to general water quality and a concerted effort to restore vital riparian forests, segments of the Black River may meet all requirements for designation as a State Scenic River in the future. A series of recommendations designed to assist with such improvements, concluded the Black River Study.
DNAP Study Recommendations included:
Citizens' Role in River Protection
by David Orr, Oberlin College
Within the lifetimes of students now attending college, world population will double to 10-12 billion people, human actions will drive into extinction perhaps 20% of the species now on Earth, and the emission of heat-trapping gases will force global climate into a less stable and probably far less desirable state. Surveying these and other global trends, 102 Nobel laureates in science and 1,600 other scientists from 70 countries signed the World Scientists' Warning to Humanity in 1992, which reads in part:
Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course....If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and...may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.A substantial and growing body of scientific evidence amassed since 1992 confirms the view that humans are at or near critical thresholds of planetary stability and ecological carrying capacity. Humankind is now in the first truly global crisis that concerns our survival as a species, the terms by which we might survive, and what it means to be human.
We the undersigned, senior members of the worlds' scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.
No problem mentioned by the world scientists is unsolvable in principle. All of the problems can be solved if we have the wit and will to act with intelligence, foresight, and dispatch.
One all-too-common response to the warnings, however, is to deny their validity. The extreme right has done this by ridiculing, obscuring evidence, and confusing the larger issues in question. The political left often denies by attacking science and inconvenient evidence as reflection of gender, power, and ethnic background. More sophisticated forms of denial take the form of excuses that we do not have the time or expertise to worry about issues beyond our specialization, especially those that make us uncomfortable in polite circumstances. Some even say that humankind has always triumphed in the past and ergo will do so in the future. Beneath all forms of denial is the hope that someone else will figure it out or that technology will save humankind in the nick of time.
What would it mean to face the mounting evidence that humankind is in real danger of mutilating the home we call Earth as well as our own humanity? First, it would require an attitude of utter candor and intellectual fearlessness to overcome complacency, self-congratulation, and busyness. We cannot easily or legitimately escape our culpability in the larger problems of our time.
Second, taking long-term global change seriously would require us to think more carefully about what our citizens need to know to live lives of service at a time when ecological stability can no longer be taken for granted. To continue environmental restoration efforts and expect to succeed without an informed citizenry would be like walking north on a southbound train.
We need to educate today's students so that tomorrow's citizenry is better informed and makes more sustainable choices. Among other things, today's students will need to know how to:
Third, a vigorous response to global change would require us to think openly about things now taboo, including the narrowness with which we define liberal arts, the unexamined assumptions implicit in our technological fundamentalism, the controlling assumptions hidden in a curriculum organized by departments and disciplines, and the anthropocentrism that limits our willingness to see ourselves as only a part of a larger ecological community on a long evolutionary journey. Students will need to think in patterns and systems, yet - rhetoric to the contrary - we still emphasize disciplinary specialization. They will need a kind of lateral rigor to combine knowledge from different fields, yet we still educate them as if rigor were exclusively vertical and meant going deeper and deeper into a particular discipline. They will need a larger sense of beauty that insists on causing no ugliness, human or ecological, somewhere else or at some later time. Yet we still educate them as if art, science, morality, and the long-term human future were unrelated. The relevant planning questions have to do with how we might create the resources, time, and intellectual tolerance to question the reductionism and anthropocentrism buried in the organization of our academic and institutional life.
Fourth, taking the long-term human future seriously would require developing ecological literacy throughout society, from students through chief executive officers. We have a model in the continuing effort to develop and upgrade our computer literacy. We have other models having to do with gender, sexual orientation, and racial equality that have been institutionalized in policy guidelines and administrative procedures. The question is how we might institutionalize the capacity to think and act across discipline boundaries as if evolution, ecology, thermodynamics, and the long-term future really mattered.
Fifth, taking the long-term seriously would change how an institution or organization operates. We have a moral interest in making certain that purchasing, investments, and operations do not undermine the integrity, beauty, and stability of the world. With that obligation in mind, could we set goals to power our institutions and organizations by a combination of greater efficiency, emerging solar technologies, and hydrogen in, say, 10 years? Why not? The limits are no longer technological or even economic, but those of imagination and commitment. Through the imaginative commitment of our purchasing and investments could we help leverage the emergence of a genuinely sustainable economy? And could we incorporate such things into educational curricula in ways that cross disciplinary boundaries while having a practical effect on the world? Why not? The important planning questions have to do with how we might imaginatively calibrate our stated values with our real institutional and organizational behavior. This must be done as part of a larger effort to teach our students and citizenry about their roles and responsibilities in protecting Earth's natural resources.
1 As defined and employed by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Surface Water