Environment 2050

Thrive Montgomery 2050 is examining the current state of the county’s environment to make recommendations on how to combat climate change and institute smart policies to protect our most valuable resources. Here is what we know:

  • It’s getting hotter: Between the years 1900 to 1980, a new temperature record was set every 13.5 years, on average. Since 1981, the average for setting a new temperature record is every three years. Nine of the 10 hottest years on record have occurred since 2000 and the hottest five years on record have been the past five years, 2014 to 2018. The average annual temperature in Maryland has risen more than 1.5 degrees F since the beginning of the 20th Century, but Montgomery County’s average annual temperature has risen 2.6 degrees F during that same period.
  • Unpredictable weather: Heavy precipitation events have increased by 55 percent in Maryland between 1958 and 2016 and could increase by another 40 percent by the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.
  • Food quality is declining: The nutritional value of some key foods, such as wheat and rice, decreases as carbon dioxide emissions increase.
  • Disease is spreading faster: As the climate changes, certain diseases and viruses are expanding into new areas and becoming more widespread.
  • Stream conditions have been impacted by development and forest loss: Streams in poor to fair condition occur mostly in highly developed urban areas, while streams in good to excellent condition are mostly found in lower density and more rural areas. There has been a significant loss of streams in excellent condition, which is likely due to a variety of factors including the greater sensitivity of these streams and climate change.
  • Stormwater runoff has been increasing while stream flows between storms have been decreasing: Stream flow measurements show an increase in intense and more erosive storm-related stream flows and lower stream flows between storm events. This pattern is seen in all areas of the County and is likely due in large part to climate change factors such as changing rainfall patterns.
  • Water quality needs to improve: Due to increasing pollutants, all of the county’s major water bodies fail to meet one or more of the State of Maryland’s water quality standards, despite regulations, policies, programs, and conservation and protection efforts. This points to the need for greater efforts and investment to meet water quality standards in the face of continued growth and accelerating climate change.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions good news and bad news: The good news is that Montgomery County has reduced community-wide emissions by 14% between 2005 and 2015, and per capita emissions decreased by 22% over that time.  The bad news is that the lowest emission year was 2011, and that emissions rose by 3% between 2012 and 2015.
  • Ozone levels good news and bad news: There has been a decrease in the number of days that Montgomery County exceeds ground-level ozone standards, but overall the Washington Metropolitan Area (which includes Montgomery County) is still not attaining the EPA ozone standard.

Tell us what you think and let us know what concerns and hopes you have for this important issue.

  • Please provide the zip code for where you live.
Last Updated: September 11, 2019