environment

Autumn Oczkowski made headlines earlier this month, not for her science, but for the fact that EPA leadership told her she couldn’t present that science at a conference about the future of Narragansett Bay. EPA leadership never said why they made that decision, but many assumed it was because climate change would be a major theme. A week later, though, Oczkowski was allowed to present her research at a different conference.

There are scientists studying how spending time in nature restores us physically and mentally.

A cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Utah noticed that after he spent a few days backpacking in nature, he got great ideas. He wanted to quantify it, so he gave people pencil-and-paper tests before and after they took hikes. The scientist, Dr. David Strayer, found that the people experienced a 50 percent increase in their creativity after the hike.

Florence Williams is the author of The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. She says even 15 minutes of walking in the woods reduces the blood pressure, reduce your cortisol stress hormones, and change your heart rate variability – all things that lead to better health.  

Florence Williams is a journalist and contributing editor to Outside magazine. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, and National Geographic among others. Her first book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2012 and the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science and Technology. Williams lives in Washington, DC.

Corals Could Help Predict the Asian Monsoon

Jan 23, 2017
Luis Lamar, WHOI

The South Asian monsoon provides the drinking water for 1.5 billion people each year. It brings more than two-thirds of India's rainfall and accounts for more than half of the water that Indian farmers use to grow crops.

Yuki A. Honjo

Cranberries are a billion-dollar industry in Massachusetts and employ more than 6,900 people. But the market is getting crowded, and that’s pushing down the price. Wisconsin has been the top grower in North America for years, where cranberry farms go back to the 1800’s. Quebec has only been growing cranberries for the last 20 years, but it surpassed Massachusetts in its cranberry harvest in 2014.

Why hasn’t Massachusetts kept up with the Wisconsin and Quebec?

Courtesy Jennifer Weston

In September, Living Lab spoke with Standing Rock Sioux tribe member Jennifer Weston about the tribe’s protest of the construction the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The tribe opposes the pipeline because they say it threatens drinking water and sacred sites. (Weston has a Cape Cod connection as the language department director for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.)

Carl Safina

Carl Safina is a marine conservationist and professor at Stony Brook University on Long Island who has been an advocate for the ocean for many years. Safina says he started out researching seabirds.

“I left science behind, not intentionally,” he told WCAI. “I started getting involved in these conservation debates. I thought I would do it for the non-field season, for a year or two. Then I realized my research was farther and farther back in the wake and I was not going to circle back to it.”

At least ninety percent of household dust contains chemicals that pose a health risk.
Heather Goldstone / WCAI

As if you need one more reason to hate household dust, science increasingly indicates it could be a hazard to your health. A recent review of research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, finds that the vast majority of household dust contains potentially toxic chemicals.

Caine Delacy

Emily Callahan was working at the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 when she noticed something strange. The workers said they couldn’t wait to get back to fishing near oil rigs. She thought they were crazy until they told her, “That’s where the fish are.”

That experience started her down the path of promoting a program that lets companies turn old oil rigs into artificial reefs that support a surprising array of sea life.

Since August, several thousand Native Americans have been camping in the path of a proposed oil pipeline in North Dakota. They are concerned that the Dakota Access pipeline will threaten their drinking water and their sacred sites. It is the single largest protest by Native Americans in more than 100 years. Earlier this month, President Obama temporarily halted construction on the pipeline for the section near the Standing Rock reservation, though the company is allowed to build other parts of the project. The protesters say they are staying put.

http://bluewave-capital.com

Lighting has changed a lot since 1850. New Bedford has been in the thick of things, every step of the way. It began with the moniker “the city that lit the world,” earned with its leading role in the whaling industry. Later, the Whaling City became a hub of electrical manufacturing. Today, New Bedford boasts more solar power per capita than any other city in the continental United States. Still, the city is struggling to move beyond the legacy of pollution and economic challenges left bygone industries.

Friends of Herring River

In 1909, the Town of Wellfleet and the State of Massachusetts built a dike at the mouth of the Herring River to dry out a wetland and get rid of a plague of mosquitos. 

It worked, and tourism flourished. But there was a cost. Water quality in the estuary got worse. Shellfish beds disappeared. And migratory fish couldn’t reach their spawning ponds.

Arbitrarily0 / wikimedia commons / CC2.0

The utility company Eversource is spraying herbicides along power lines in 13 Cape towns this fall. The action is going ahead despite the fact that all 15 towns in Barnstable County have asked the utility to stop its spraying program.

Pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and household chemicals can be found widely in the environment and drinking water.
Wikimedia Commons

Modern American life is full of synthetic chemicals - medicines, cosmetics, soaps and shampoos, household cleaners, non-stick cookware, and stain-resistant furniture. Most of us don't give much thought to where those chemicals go when we're done with them, but some researchers are tracking them in wastewater, the environment, and even drinking water.