Block Island wind farm gets final approvals

Deepwater Wind has received the final federal approval needed to build the Block Island Wind Farm — a project that remains on-track to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm. The project’s lead federal permitting agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, granted its approval Sept. 5. With the Corps’ permit, the Block Island Wind Farm has now been completely reviewed, and approved, by nine state and federal agencies: Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Rhode Island State Historic Preservation Office.

How Pollutant Risk is Affected by Different Insect Stages

The food chain is a hierarchical series of organisms that are interrelated in their feeding habits. The chain starts when the smallest being like an insect is fed upon a larger prey species, which in turn feeds an even larger species. So if a species among the lower ranks of the chain has accumulated toxins such as pesticides or other organic chemicals, there is potential for these toxic substances to affect the species that prey upon them. This is the subject of new research conducted by the US Geological survey that found when fish feed on insects and when other wildlife species feed on fish, harmful contaminants are transferred up the line.

Can outdoor activity be BAD for you?

Residential geography, time spent in the sun, and whether or not sunglasses are worn may help explain why some people develop exfoliation syndrome (XFS), an eye condition that is a leading cause of secondary open-angle glaucoma and can lead to an increased risk of cataract and cataract surgery complications, according to a study published on Sept. 4 in JAMA, Ophthalmology. Despite improvements in understanding the cause of this common yet life-altering condition, more work needs to be done. "The discovery that common genetic variants in the lysyl oxidase-like 1 gene (LOXL1) are associated with 99 percent of XFS cases represented a significant advance in our understanding of this condition," said the study's lead author, Louis Pasquale, M.D., Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), and director of the HMS Glaucoma Center of Excellence and Mass. Eye and Ear Glaucoma Service and Telemedicine Service. "However, 80 percent of control individuals also harbor these variants and that ratio of cases to control individuals with trait-related variants is fairly similar in regions where XFS is very prevalent and in regions where the condition is relatively rare; this suggests that other genetic or environmental factors contribute to XFS."

UN licenses kick off search for underwater minerals

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has begun issuing exploration licenses for mining the yet untouched floor of international waters raising concerns about potential environmental impacts. The licenses, issued on 21 July, grant prospecting rights for underwater minerals to private and state-owned companies from Brazil, Cook Islands, Germany, India, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Ozone pollution in India kills crops that could feed starving population

In one year, India's ozone pollution damaged millions of tons of the country's major crops, causing losses of more than a billion dollars and destroying enough food to feed tens of millions of people living below the poverty line. These are findings of a new study that looked at the agricultural effects in 2005 of high concentrations of ground-level ozone, a plant-damaging pollutant formed by emissions from vehicles, cooking stoves and other sources. Able to acquire accurate crop production data for 2005, the study's authors chose it as a year representative of the effects of ozone damage over the first decade of the 21st century.

More benefits of green neighborhoods

Mothers who live in neighborhoods with plenty of grass, trees or other green vegetation are more likely to deliver at full term and their babies are born at higher weights, compared to mothers who live in urban areas that aren’t as green, a new study shows. The findings held up even when results were adjusted for factors such as neighborhood income, exposure to air pollution, noise, and neighborhood walkability, according to researchers at Oregon State University and the University of British Columbia.

New software helps us choose products, ingredients based on sustainability

How can a manufacturer reformulate a cleaning product to contain fewer harmful chemicals, and how can a retailer stock its shelves with more eco-friendly merchandise? UL (Underwriters Laboratories), a product safety testing and certification company, thinks it may have a solution: a set of data tools that helps businesses search and choose ingredients and products based on their environmental and social responsibility profiles.

New way to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere

Researchers in Japan have engineered a membrane with advanced features capable of removing harmful greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Their findings, published in the British journal Nature Communications, may one day contribute to lower greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner skies. Greenhouse gases, originating from industrial processes and the burning of fossil fuels, blanket the earth and are the culprits behind current global warming woes. The most abundant among them is carbon dioxide, which made up 84% of the United State's greenhouse gases in 2012, and can linger in Earth's atmosphere for up to thousands of years.

The tragic fate of the Passenger Pigeon

This September 1 is the 100th anniversary of a landmark event in the history of biodiversity. On that day in 1914, at about one o'clock in the afternoon, Martha - the last surviving passenger pigeon - died at the Cincinnati Zoo. It is extraordinary to know with virtual certainty the day and hour when a species ceases to be a living entity. And it was a stunning development because less than half a century earlier, the passenger pigeon had been the most abundant bird in North America, if not the world. As late as the 1860s, passenger pigeons had likely numbered in the billions, and their population was neither evenly distributed across the landscape nor in any way subtle. These birds had a propensity for forming huge aggregations that are difficult to imagine today. John James Audubon, America's best-known student of birds, recorded a flight of passenger pigeons along the Ohio River in Kentucky that eclipsed the sun for three days. Other accounts, written over the course of three centuries and in several languages, testify to the birds darkening the sky for hours at a time over the major cities of the eastern third of the United States and Canada.