Home About Us Research Collaboration

Looking Ahead to Maryland 2050:
Living in Our Environment

December 2006 Workshop
Presentation Abstracts
Attendee List

Resources - Maryland MD2050 Home

Humans and the environment in Maryland – current trends and future prospects


Global Trends

According to the United Nations, in July 2005 the world had 6.5 billion inhabitants. Despite declining fertility levels projected over 2005-2050, the world population is expected to reach 9.1 billion. Most of this growth will occur in the developing world. At the global level, continued population growth until 2050 is inevitable, even if fertility rates continue to decline.

Low and declining rates of growth due to low fertility rates in developed nations as a whole is expected to stabilize population over the period between 2005 and 2050 at about 1.2 billion. However, the United States is expected to grow during this period, from 300 million at present to 395-420 million. This is largely due to current migration patterns. The United States is projected to remain the largest receiving country, with 1.1 million newcomers expected annually by 2050. In contrast, the population of the 50 least developed countries is projected to more than double, increasing from 0.8 billion in 2005 to 1.7 billion in 2050.

Global life expectancy at birth is expected to continue rising, reaching 75 years in 2045-
2050; 82 years in developed countries. The proportion of people aged 60 years or older is projected to increase from 20 to 32 percent by 2050 in developed nations.

Local Trends

Maryland’s population has experienced a boom due to its proximity to Washington, D.C., primarily in the Baltimore-Washington corridor counties. Most of the growth occurred during the 1980s (13% growth) and 1990s (11% growth). Since 1970, the state’s population has increased by one third, with the majority concentrated in southern Maryland (141%) followed by the upper eastern shore (59%), the Washington region (48%) and the lower eastern shore (47%). Regions experiencing decreasing rates of growth include the Baltimore region and western Maryland. Demographically, most of the growth has occurred in the 65+ age category, which has doubled since 1970. The 20-44 and 45-64 age groups have increased by about half, and the <20 population has remained approximately constant. The population of non-whites has likewise increased by 150%, while whites have increased by only about 10%.

As of the 2000 census, Maryland was the 19th most populated state with close to 5.25 million residents, and is projected to become the 16th largest state by 2030. The U.S. projected growth over this period is slightly above 29%, while Maryland is expected to grow about 33%, to 6.7 million. Geographically speaking, much of the growth is projected to occur in southern Maryland and the upper eastern shore, with the remaining regions following the state average. Between 2000 and 2030, the 65+ group is expected to double again, while all other age groups are expected to increase 20% or less. Likewise, the population of non-whites is expected to continue to increase by over 50%, while whites will increase only 12%, mimicking nationwide trends. The age and ethnic composition of Maryland's population will thus continue to evolve over the next 25 years.


World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision. 2005. Population Division, United Nations, New York. (PDF, 2.19 MB)

U.S. Interim Projections by Age, Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin. 2004. U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, Population Projections Branch.

Historical and Projected Total Population for Maryland's Jurisdictions. 2005. Maryland Department of Planning State Data Center. (PDF, 16 KB)



Global trends

As of 2005, according to the World Bank, the world had a Gross Total Income of $45 trillion, with a Gross National Income per capita average of $6,987. Projections for 2050 vary enormously, but the consensus is that the world economy will continue to grow. According to the scenarios proposed by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, rates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth per year will lie between 1% and 5% depending on the scenario. In the document The Road to 2050, The World Bank suggests that by 2050 the economy will increase to $135 trillion in 2050, with 60% of that GDP remaining in industrialized nations.

Another report by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests that by the year 2050, the "E7”-Emerging 7" economies — China, India, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey — will have outstripped the current G7 — US, Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Canada - by between 25% when comparing GDP using market exchange rates to around 75% when using purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates. The rise of the E7 economies should boost average income levels in OECD countries by creating new market opportunities, although undoubtedly there will be many losers as well. In terms of GDP per capita in PPP terms, the United States is predicted to have the highest by 2050 with $88,443, doubling today’s values, with other OECD and E7 countries converging towards those high incomes.

Local trends

Despite its small geographic size, Maryland has a large and dynamic economy. Its total economic output as of 2005 exceeds that of independent nations such as Ireland and Greece. The Washington-Baltimore corridor is especially active in terms of business growth and job creation. In 2005, Maryland had the second highest median household income in the United States: $61,592, and the fourth highest per capita personal income: $41,996. Per capita income is projected to keep increasing, reaching $48,955 by 2030. Unemployment is relatively low at 4.1%, below the national average. Maryland also has the second lowest poverty rate in the United States, 8.2%, compared to a nationwide rate of 13.3% (2005).

The top employing industries in the State are trade, transportation and utilities, supporting over 18% of the workforce. These sectors are followed by professional and business services (15%), and education and health services (13.5%). Local government employment is also significant with over a 9% share of total employment. The current workforce of over 2.9 million people (2005) is projected to increase to almost 3.4 million by 2030, with a slight decline in proportion with respect to the total population: 67.4% to 63.6%


Hawksworth, John. 2006. The World in 2050. How big will the major emerging market economies get and how can the OECD compete?. PricewaterhouseCoopers Coopers.

Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. 2006. Maryland Rankings.

Maryland Department of Labor. Maryland Career and Workforce Information. Office of Labor Market Analysis and Information.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC.

The Road to 2050. Sustainable Development for the 21st Century. 2006. The World Bank. Washington D.C. Part 1, Part 2

Key Development Data & Statistics. The World Bank.



Global Trends

World energy consumption is projected to increase by 71% from 2003 to 2030, with fossil fuels continuing as the dominant supply source. In the United States, energy consumption is projected to increase by 1.2% per year until 2025. The impact of economic and population growth will be dampened by a decrease in the energy intensity of achieved by structural changes in the economy, technological progress and energy price increases. Energy demand in industrialized countries will increase at a slower pace than in developing countries. By 2030, more than half of the world energy demand is expected to come from developing countries.

World oil production is projected to increase by about 65% over the period 2000-2030, whereas coal production is expected to double. Fossil fuel prices are expected to increase, but economic growth is projected to keep up with demand. Renewable energy sources are expected to increase from 8% to 9% share of energy consumption by 2030. A resurgence of nuclear power to generate electricity is also expected. There is no anticipated shortage of fossil fuels by 2030.

In 2030, world CO2 emissions are expected to reach more than twice the level of 1990; with developing countries reaching 50% of world CO2 emissions in 2030, despite compliance with the Kyoto protocol3,2. U.S. emissions are projected to increase by 1.2%/year until 20302. Massive technology improvements, carbon capture and storage, the use of nuclear energy, efficiency and renewable energies at all levels are cited as necessary to reverse those trends and actually reduce emissions in the future4. According to the International Energy Agency, power generation can be substantially de-carbonized by 2050, whereas de-carbonizing transport will take longer.

Local Trends

Maryland is ranked 41st in per capita energy consumption and 24th in total energy consumption in the United States. In terms of overall sources of energy, Maryland does not differ much from the rest of the United States, whose shares of energy sources are approximately the following as of 20037: Around 40% from petroleum, 23% from coal, 24% from natural gas, 10% from nuclear power and 6% from hydropower and other renewables. Electricity demand in Maryland is expected to increase approximately 32% from 2006 to 2025.8

In 2006, the Maryland Legislature passed the Healthy Air Act, which establishes caps for nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide and mercury for most of Maryland’s coal-fired power plants. The act also requires Maryland to enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) by 30 June 2007, which is developing a plan to cap carbon dioxide emissions from power plants at 1990 levels beginning in 2009, and to reduce emissions by 10 percent from those levels by 2018.6


Energy Information Administration. International Energy Outlook 2006. June 2006.

Energy Information Administration. Annual Energy Outlook 2006 with Projections to 2030.

European Commission. 2003. EUR 20366 — World energy, technology and climate policy outlook 2030 — WETO. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities 2003 — VI.

International Energy Agency. Energy Technology Perspectives: Scenarios and Strategies to 2050. Beijing -12 July 2006.

Energy Information Administration. Petroleum Profile: Maryland. September 2006. (31 October 2006)

Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Maryland Power Plant Research Program. September 2006.

Energy Information Administration. State Data. Table S3. Energy Consumption  Estimates by Source, 2003.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiatives. IPM Energy Modeling Assumptions Document. February 2, 2005. p. 31.



Global Trends

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has conducted extensive research on the current status and projections of climate change, including impacts on various economic sectors. With high confidence, surface temperatures are expected to rise 1.4-5.8°C, on average, with the greatest increases occurring in high latitudes. IPCC research focuses a great deal of attention on the impact of rising temperatures on precipitation patterns, agricultural yields, vector- and water-borne disease, sea level rise, water quality and supply, energy consumption, etc. An additional concern is the asymmetric distribution of impacts geographically. Africa, Asia, Latin America, and small island nations are expected to be most vulnerable to extreme precipitation events (droughts and floods), loss in agricultural yield, availability and quality of freshwater, spread of malaria and other climate-related disease, and loss of coastal property via sea level rise. Many developed nations also face similar risks due to climate change impacts, but to a lesser degree based on greater adaptation and mitigation potentials. As a result, developing nations are the most vulnerable and also show the least potential for active adaptation.

Local Trends

Despite Maryland’s position in a developed nation, risks of climate change are worth considering. The average temperature in College Park has risen nearly 1.5°C over the last century, and parts of the Appalachian region have experienced up to 10% increases in annual precipitation. Projections through 2100 include an additional 1.5+°C increase and an increase in precipitation of 20%. This increase may offset heightened evaporation rates due to increased temperature, but will likely vary geographically. Average sea level in Maryland is expected to rise nearly 2 feet by 2100, but models produce a wide range of possible scenarios. Beach erosion in popular tourist destinations is expected to impose large costs through the growing need for beach replenishment. Agricultural yield is poorly understood, but major crops (i.e. corn and soybeans) will likely experience changed growing conditions, including higher summer temperatures, an increase in frost-free days, variable soil moisture, and increased carbon dioxide fertilization. The direction and magnitude of yield changes are uncertain.


Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Vulnerability, and Adaptation, 2001. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group II.

Climate Change and Maryland, 1998. EPA Office of Policy. (PDF, 80 KB)



Global Trends

The global picture for fresh water supply is particularly worrisome. According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, fresh water withdrawal is already unsustainable. From 5% to possibly 25% of global freshwater use exceeds long-term accessible supplies and is now met either through engineered water transfers or overdraft of groundwater supplies. Some 15–35% of irrigation withdrawals exceed supply rates. Water scarcity and declining access to fresh water affect 1–2 billion people worldwide. Although water management systems such as dams and reservoirs have made water supply more reliable in some regions, wetland degradation has deteriorated water supply worldwide. Pollution and biodiversity loss in inland water systems are significant concerns as well.

By 2050 there is medium to high certainty that global demand for water will increase sharply, while supplies continue to deteriorate, although less so in scenarios with more proactive environmental policies. In any case, major and unavoidable policy decisions will have to be made that address trade-offs among current uses of water resources and between current and future uses. Of particular importance are choices among agricultural production, water quality, land use, biodiversity, irrigation and household water supply.

Local Trends

Because of the projected 20% increase in population by 2030, water supply in Maryland could become strained in the future. Overall, water demand is expected to increase 16%, but Southern Maryland is expected to see a 40% increase. The other major growth area is the Eastern Shore, with an anticipated 30% increase in water demand. In general, Maryland’s physiographic regions include the Coastal Plain (southern/eastern), Piedmont (central), and Appalachian Plateau (western). While surface water contributes to western/central water supplies, the Coastal Plain relies exclusively on confined aquifers, which are much more sensitive to over-withdrawal. This region happens to coincide with the areas of highest water demand increase. Care must be taken to ensure that aquifer water levels remain sufficient and are given adequate recharge time in the future. Historically Maryland has maintained adequate supply, even through droughts, with management. More modeling efforts are needed to quantify supply under future climate scenarios, especially for the closed aquifer system in the Coastal Plain.


Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Wetlands and Water Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC. (PDF, 6.52 MB)

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Island Press, Washington, DC. (PDF, 14.9 MB)

Final Report, 2004. Maryland Department of Environment, Advisory Committee on the Management and Protection of the State's Water Resources. (PDF, 2.1 MB)



Global Trends

On a global scale, production of agricultural commodities has increased, but at a decreasing rate since the 1960s. Annual growth in production has fallen from 3% to 2%, which is partially due to the slowing down of population growth (from 2% to 1.3% annually since the 1960s). Most of the rise in production has come from developing countries. Likewise, demand for agricultural products has decreased, but varies widely amongst products and regions. The basic food stuffs (meat, cereals, and dairy) have decreased, but products such as vegetables, oils, and eggs have increased. Developing countries have increased their demand faster than developed countries, but production has lagged somewhat, necessitating imports.

Africa and southern Asia rely most heavily on agriculture as a source of GDP and exports. However, these regions and South America have agricultural trade deficits and malnutrition rates in excess of 20%. This is in sharp contrast to many developed nations, which typically have a smaller share of agricultural GDP, higher consumption, but a positive trade balance. Trade reform is an increasingly important issue due to the plethora of protected markets and tariffs, in addition to the ever-growing world population. With trade reform, agricultural growth in developing countries leading to greater food security is anticipated, but the methods and timing of reform are critical in determining the direction of change.

Local Trends

Farming has been an integral part of Maryland’s culture and economy, especially in the more rural counties. Like the trend for United States as a whole, Maryland is losing agricultural land. Though both state and national declines have been slowing since the mid-1980s, Maryland’s rate of loss is twice that of the United States as a whole. Most of the decline is due to suburban sprawl. The development value, per acre, of Maryland farmland is nearly triple the value of production from an average American farm acre, which creates incentives for development as opposed to agricultural production.

Today, almost all remaining farmers in and around metropolitan/suburban areas use farming as secondary income; by itself, farming no longer produces enough income to sustain a family. The relative lack of profitability of farming in Maryland has discouraged younger farmers. The average Maryland farmer is 54 years old, a demographic trend that has been on the rise since 1980. Corn and soybeans are the major state crops, but livestock, barley, and nursery commodities are thriving compared to national sales. On the supply side, farms bringing in profits of more than $100,000 annually represent only 20% of Maryland farms, yet generate 90% of the state’s sales. At the other end of the spectrum, farms bringing in profits of less than $10,000 represent 50% of farms but account for less than 2% of all Maryland agricultural sales. Decreasing returns on farming have adversely affected smaller farms.


Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Policy, University of Maryland, no date. Economic Situation and Prospects for Maryland Agriculture Policy Analysis Report 02-01 (PDF 383 KB, 110 pp.)

FAOSTAT, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Website

Commodity Policy and Projections Service, Commodities and Trade Division, 1999. Salient trends in world agricultural production, demand, trade. FAO Symposium on Agriculture, Trade, and Food Security: Issue and options in the forthcoming WTO negotiations from the perspective of developing countries. Geneva, Switzerland.

Additional information is available from the Harry Hughes Center for Agro-Ecology, Inc. The Center, affiliated with the University of Maryland College of Agriculture & Natural Resources has been involved with many research projects relating to the changing role of agriculture and forestry in Maryland.


Land Use

Regional Trends

Observing land cover change in the Eastern United States from the 1970s to 2000, the primary manifestations of change are timber harvesting and urban growth. A considerable amount of land is cycling from forest to cleared conditions and back to forest. Another persistent trend in the region is the conversion of agricultural lands to forest and urban land uses. Urban development, including transportation networks, has increased and accelerated across the region. There are a large number of transitional, disturbed lands such as grasslands/shrublands/forest clearings, both as a consequence of timber harvesting practices and urban development. Other land cover types are seeing modest change in cover, such as mining areas, water bodies, and wetlands. Within the whole area, regional variations are significant, with higher rates of change occurring on the Coastal Mid Atlantic and Southeast, and less so west of the Appalachians and in the Northeast.

Local Trends

Because of its growing population and relatively high population density (see Population Summary), land use has become an increasingly important topic for a geographically limited state such as Maryland. The Baltimore-Washington corridor contains much of the state's urban development, but areas such as the eastern shore and counties peripheral to major urban areas will see increased rates of suburban growth in the upcoming decades. The State of Maryland is aware of this trend and enacted the Smart Growth Act of 1997, creating the Office of Smart Growth, to conscientiously foster economic development and prevent unplanned sprawl. Crucial to Maryland's smart growth planning is the designation of “Priority Funding Areas”, or PFAs, as the hubs of future development. As shown on this PFA map, the state is committed to containing growth within the Baltimore-Washington corridor, within both cities’ beltways, and around already-existing population centers throughout the states. This type of policy clearly has its benefits and drawbacks, including the opportunity to channel development away from ecologically sensitive and valuable areas on the one hand, but logistical concerns regarding the ability of PFAs to absorb further development and maintain housing affordability on the other hand.

Efforts have been made to model future land use changes in Maryland. One such study (Jantz et al., 2003) used an urban development model, SLEUTH, to quantify growth in the Baltimore-Washington corridor under three policy scenarios: 1) current trends, 2) managed growth, and 3) ecologically sustainable growth. Under current trends, land outside state-designated PFAs, forests, and agricultural areas do not enjoy a high degree of protection from development; managed growth reflects a stronger commitment to spatially focused growth and resource protection, and strongly protects wetlands and tidal zones; ecologically sustainable growth employs higher standards of protection, limited growth, and no new roads. Results of the SLEUTH projection to 2030 include development increases of 110 km2/yr, 41 km2/yr, and 28 km2/yr, respectively, for scenarios 1, 2, and 3. Continued modeling efforts will help quantify and guide development and land management policy.


Jantz, et al., 2003. "Using the SLEUTH urban growth model to stimulate the impacts of future policy scenarios on urban land use in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area". Environmental Planning and Design B. 30: 251-271.

Loveland, T. and Acevedo, W. Land Cover Change in the Eastern United States. United States Geological Survey. http://eros.usgs.gov/LT/LCCEUS.html. (3 November 2006).

Maryland Department of Planning Smart Growth Website



Like much of the rest of the country, some serious infrastructure challenges await Maryland in the upcoming decades. Some of the more pressing needs will involve water supply and electrical infrastructures.


A large portion of the country’s piping was built in the late 1800s of cast iron and has a life expectancy of about 120 years. Cast iron piping continued to be used through the 1960s. New pipe technology has been used since the early 20th century, but is unfortunately less durable (75-100 years). Continued degradation of older piping has led to many line breaks. The American Society of Civil Engineers documents that Maryland loses an estimated 66 million gallons of drinking water per day due to these breaks and other inadequacies in the distribution infrastructure. Line breaks are also related to water quality, since breaks are known to enhance the spread of water-borne disease. Due to health concerns and the aging of Maryland’s infrastructure, utilities will need to begin replacing their infrastructure, which is a huge expense. According to the Water and Science Technology Board, the percentage of piping needing replacement, on an annual basis, will rise from about 0.25% to 2.0% by 2035. For financial and logistical reasons, 2% is a very challenging percentage, and is expected to impose significant costs on utilities and customers. Cost estimates from several technology organizations range from 7.5 to 23 billion dollars annually for the country as a whole; ASCE anticipates a $1.7 billion investment for the state of Maryland over the course of the next 20 years.


Half of Maryland’s electrical generation capacity comes from plants that are more than 30 years old; two-thirds of these plants are coal plants. Nuclear power, exclusively developed in the 1970s, contributes 14% of total capacity, yet is encountering major maintenance issues. Younger plants contribute less to the total generation capacity, and typically use natural gas, petroleum/natural gas mixtures, or renewables as their fuel of choice. Yet these plants only contribute one-third of Maryland’s generation capacity. In total, as of 2005, the state’s electricity generation capacity stands at 12,500 MW. Major additions that are currently online include a 600 MW nuclear plant in Frederick County, and a 100 MW plant in Garrett County

The provision of electricity to Maryland residents has changed significantly over the last few decades. In the summer of 2000, Maryland underwent initial deregulation of its electric utilities, which is continuing to be worked through logistically. Maryland’s transmission company (PJM) is the sole provider of energy for much of the Mid-Atlantic region, and is planning an expansion. This should help ensure the availability of electricity during peak load times by relying on distant sources. Continued growth of demand due to population growth will likely challenge electrical supply through the upcoming decades.


American Water Works Service Company, Engineering Dept, 2002. Deteriorating Buried Infrastructure Management Challenges and Strategies

American Water Works Association, 2001. Dawn of the replacement era: reinvesting in drinking water infrastructure

Public Services Commission, 2004. Ten-year plan (2004-2013) of electric companies in Maryland

EPA Water Science and Technology Board, 2006. Drinking Water Distribution Systems: Assessing and Reducing Risks

American Society of Civil Engineers, 2005. Report card for America's Infrastructure: Maryland


Chesapeake Bay (based on Chesapeake Futures report)

During the past century, coastal ecosystems worldwide have been those most affected by habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution and invasion of exotic species. Climate change is already having a moderate impact on the Bay and is poised to exert greater influence in the near future. Likewise, local pollution of the Chesapeake Bay has been one of the leading environmental concerns in recent years.  Agriculture has been the primary polluter, nutrients from fertilizers (e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus) running off the land into streams feeding the bay. Nutrient loading has been proven to increase algal and floating plant growth, which causes bottom-water oxygen levels to plummet. The end result is the suffocation of bottom-dwelling organisms, disruption of marine food webs and creation of toxic waters. Water pollution also kills marine life and can impact humans through contaminated drinking water and seafood. The Chesapeake 2000 agreement was enacted to improve conditions and protect the bay from future harm, and was one of the first major efforts to address Bay health.

Some of the recent trends affecting the Chesapeake Bay are:

Negative Positive
  • Population growth
  • Land use conversion and development
  • Nutrient and sediment loading
  • Hypoxia (lack of oxygen)
  • Declining populations and habitat of crabs and oysters
  • Forest defragmentation efforts
  • Riparian buffer restoration

According to the Chesapeake Futures report, the health of the Bay in 2030 will be affected primarily by land use and development trends, the extent and connectivity of forests, agricultural and urban pollution control technology, and overall ecosystem health. The report used three scenarios to explore the state of the Bay in the year 2030:

  • Recent Trends: status quo, business as usual. Developed land will increase by 60%; nutrient loading will continue to grow; deforestation will begin again, increasing habitat fragmentation; 700,000 acres of agricultural land will be lost and farming will become less economical; coastline erosion will accelerate and tidal wetlands will be lost due to rising sea level; submerged aquatic vegetation beds will contract; etc.
  • Current Objectives: maintain Chesapeake 2000 and other agreements. 800,000 acres of forest and agricultural land will be developed; nitrogen and phosphorus loading will decrease, by 9% and 21%, respectively; forest cover will decline though exhibit less fragmentation; only 400,000 acres of farmland will be lost; sedimentation will decrease though coastal erosion will continue; submerged vegetation will thrive; biological diversity will increase and fisheries will become more productive.
  • Feasible Alternatives: more aggressive policies and technology innovation. The most sustainable of the three scenarios, total development loss will be only 350,000 acres; sedimentation and nutrient loading will decrease further; forest cover and riparian buffers will increase; only 300,000 acres of farmland will be lost; agricultural nutrient leaching will be controlled; water quality and oxygen levels will drastically improve; and biological diversity and resilience will improve. 

Chesapeake Future recommends following the “Feasible Alternatives” scenario. The factors controlling scenario characteristics (technological development, environmental policies, economic and population growth, etc.) are interdisciplinary issues which require extensive policy reform and collaboration across government, the private sector, and among individual citizens. 


Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Wetlands and Water Synthesis. World Resources Institute, Washington, DC. (PDF, 6.52 MB)

Chesapeake Futures, 2003. Chesapeake Bay Program’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee, Edgewater, MD