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Fashion Sends an SOS for the Ocean

Apparel fabricated from plastic debris recovered from the sea is rolling into the marketplace. In a campaign championed by Virginia Beach native and pop icon Pharrell Williams, the artist is spotlighting the plight caused by pollution and an innovative solution. Through his contribution, he hopes to garner support and catalyze action.

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Ambient Air CO2 Capture Plant - Image: Climeworks

The Climate Cure: Balancing Carbon Equilibrium by Transforming a Liability into a Commodity

10.5.15 - Overuse and depletion of fossil, vegetative, and land resources has created a global carbon imbalance. Transforming to a clean energy economy will help resolve the condition, but to cure it, carbon must be captured, recycled and stored. By engineering high tech as well as down to earth strategies, entrepreneurs aim to cash in on the carbon conundrum. A host of pioneering carbon offsetting initiatives are discussed including carbon trading, regenerative agriculture and biomass fixing, as well as drawing down ambient CO2 as a feedstock for products including fuel.


Is the U.S. Ecologically Overdrawn?

7.15.15 - While the U.S. is considered biologically rich, it is consuming natural capital at twice the domestic replacement rate. That's the gist of a new analysis issued by the Oakland, CA non-profit Global Footprint. In a news release, the think tank estimates that July 14 marks the day that the U.S. surpassed an annual ecological budget putting it in the red from an accounting standpoint.


Image - The biocapacity deficit and reserves of U.S. states (2010 data) - Global Footprint Network

Fragile Coral Habitat Protected - Norfolk Canyon Research

It seems that the push for oil and gas extraction is driving research that will enrich our knowledge about a vast and unique ecosystem right off the mid-Atlantic.  A newly released documentary on a research project conducted at Norfolk and Baltimore Canyons is included.

Meanwhile, landmark action to protect the diverse and distinct marine ecosystems off the East Coast was approved in June. Through a long process facilitated by the mid-Atlantic Fisheries Council, NGOs, scientists and the fishing industry, agreed to measures that will safeguard deep cold-water corals. Read More


Getting Butts off the Beach

Several hotels in Virginia Beach are participating in an initiative to reduce beachfront cigarette butt litter. According to the local campaign coordinator, Christina Trapani, volunteers are working with 13 resort area hotels for this pilot project. To help keep the beach clean, several cigarette collection receptacles will be installed on the boardwalk between 20th and 24th streets at the Oceanfront. Staff at all the mapped hotels will also distribute personal pocket ashtrays designed for portable disposal as well as educational materials explaining the campaign to employees and guests.

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Gulf Oil Spill Implicated in Dolphin Die-Off

Since 2010, 1160 cetaceans have stranded in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. A body of evidence indicates that the culprit behind the Unusual Mortality Event is oil released from the BP Macondo blowout. Read More.

Image: Dolphins are seen swimming through the oil spilling from the Deepwater Horizon oil well at the height of the spill
in 2010. (Credit:NOAA)

New Sources of Seafood Cropping Up:
Aquaculture Ventures from the Mountains to Offshore

3.23.15 - To alleviate pressure on wild stocks and reduce pollution and contamination resulting from intensive coastal farm operations, sustainable aquaculture enterprises are emerging in some surprising places. From the mountains to the open ocean, enterprises like a land based black sea bass farm on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, a Siberian sturgeon/caviar operation in the Blue Ridge mountains and a floating remotely operated pen in the open ocean are explored. Read more.

Selected Features:

NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record Image: NASA

With the Support of Pharrell, Climate Action is a Hot Topic

It has been 50 years since the first known presidential warning on CO2 pollution. Smoldering in scientific circles for more than the last half century, the climate threat created by burning fossil fuels has waxed and waned in the public eye. With big price tags connected to more frequent climate disrupting events, concern is mounting. As a result, the topic of climate has been heating up meeting rooms here in Virginia and around the world. Spearheading a campaign to raise climate awareness and drive action is non other than famed pop-icon and Virginia Beach native, Pharrell Williams. Read More.

Cash Crop Gains Ground in the Old Dominion

1.6.15 - The market for industrial hemp is experiencing explosive growth. Not to be confused with its psychoactive cousin, industrial hemp provides the basis for a plethora of legal US products valued in 2013 at $581 million. Due to prohibitions on production, domestic suppliers for the booming health supplement and many emerging industries have relied upon imported materials. With recent loosening of federal regulations on cultivation, a groundswell of support for this sustainable crop is erupting across the country. The Old Dominion is poised to officially join the movement. Read more about hemp in Virginia, including the construction of a hemp hom in Virginia Beach.

The Stars Come Out for the Ocean

Posted 1 December 2014 - by Carol Brighton

From Below the Waves to Satellites in Space, From Tiny Islands to Music and Film Giants, Initiatives are Being Launched to Protect our Life Support System, the Ocean.

Music and Oceanographic icons join forces to save the ocean.

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This is No Folk Tale: ELF Sightings in Virginia
| Enchanting Mode of Transport Emerging Everywher

Posted 29 October 2014 - by Carol Brighton

Given the old world charm of historic Williamsburg and the whimsical theme park atmosphere of Busch Gardens, an ELF spotted in the area may not seem all that surprising. While not actually magical, the ELF encountered around town is certainly enchanting. The sprightly solar powered cycle is turning heads and attracting interest at Fall events like William and Mary's Homecoming and the school's Science Day at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

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The Ocean is Trashed

In a study of zooplankton in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, scientists found that plastics outweighed the amount of plankton by a ratio of 6 to 1. Plastics are now so pervasive that entire ecosystems reliant on ocean pollution have evolved and a new word describing this environment, the 'Plastisphere" has become part of our lexicon. A solar powered trash interceptor in Baltimore Harbor is helping to collect debris before it reaches the sea.

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Nature at Work:
Building Ecological Infrastructure

Integrating vegetation into buildings is a blossoming trend that is gaining widespread acceptance. A recent study completed at Virginia Tech, found that green roofs on average reduce runoff by about half. Vegetated coverings not only reduce stormwater runoff, they provide thermal insulation, reducing heating and cooling demand.

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Alternative Power Prospects Brighten in Virginia

Posted January 1, 2014 - By Carol Brighton

Following a trend well established in much of the country, renewable energy installations are beginning to pick up pace in the Old Dominion. Online in December, the Salem Veteran's Administration photovoltaic array sited atop a sealed landfill is the second Megawatt (MW) scale project operating in Virginia.

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Adapting to Rising Seas with Aquatecture

Rather than retreating from inundation prone low elevations, the solution, in some situations, may be to look for ways to make accommodations to the built environment. Amphibious or floating architecture or aquatecture is one potential coping strategy.

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