Environment

A look at the natural world around us.

A poll by the National Resources Defense Council shows 88% of Virginians want the state to use more wind and solar power, and the federal government has offered the state $47 million to build a couple of turbines offshore, but Dominion Power is hesitant. 

Virginia is blessed with 112 miles of coastline. Twenty-seven miles out, the water is still relatively shallow, making it ideal for construction of wind turbines, and there’s usually a steady ocean breeze.

Dominion Virginia Power has leased land offshore for a wind park, but it’s not clear when construction might begin. 

The company says a demonstration project is needed to guide future development, but the cost to build a couple of turbines offshore is too high. 

In Denmark – which has more than 30 years of experience – experts say driving costs down is the name of the game, and they’re happy to share their secrets with Virginia. 

Photo by Matt Wasson, Appalachian Voices.

The decline of coal mining is a blessing to some and a curse to others. And when it comes to what’s known as ‘mountain top removal’ the disagreement runs even deeper. Appalachia is ground zero for this form of surface coal mining. And while it’s only a small percentage of all coal mining, opponents are calling for it to stop.

“Appalachia has so much potential, but we can’t realize that potential if we continue to poison our water and destroy our mountains."

Virginia Tech

Scientists at Virginia Tech are one step closer to controlling a species of mosquito that carries deadly disease. It’s not a pesticide or repellant, it’s a gene that can literally change the gender of a mosquito from potentially deadly females to harmless males.

Sex matters in mosquitos, because it is females only which bite to nourish their young. That’s how they can spread disease.  Bio Chemistry Professor Jake Tu is part of the team that discovered the elusive gene called NIX, which can change female mosquitos and their offspring into males. 

You’ve probably seen it in your garden, along roadways, just about everywhere: Garlic Mustard.  It’s an invasive plant that stealthily out-competes native species, threatening the diversity of forests in many parts of the country. But what if there were a recipe to change that?

They don’t call it garlic mustard for nothing. Rachel Collins is Associate Professor of Biology at Roanoke College. 

“The chemical that it’s making that smells like garlic is one of these herbivore defense chemicals like basil and all the other yummy flavors in bail and mint.”

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