Wisconsin Foam Opens New, Greener Facility on Madison's East Side

by Rory Schaefer, age 12

From car seats to cosmetics, you probably use foam products every day. But did you know that commercial foam is fabricated right here in Madison, Wisconsin?

Wisconsin Foam, a company that produces foam on a mass scale, recently moved into an energy-efficient, 150,000 square foot facility on the east side of Madison. The facility is around three times larger than the company’s previous establishment and much greener. [read more]

A Conversation With Seth Ebel: Idealist and Engineer

by Kadjata Bah, age 12, and Sylvan Bachhuber, age 17

Last Tuesday, we sat down with Seth Ebel, a thirty-something civil engineer at the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department. He has the air of a pragmatic idealist: passionate and motivated, yet down-to-earth and committed.

Born and raised nearby in Jefferson, Wisconsin, Ebel spent his childhood exploring the Wisconsin wilderness. An avid football player, he received a scholarship to play for Michigan Technological University where he graduated with a degree in civil engineering. In his free time he loves hunting, fishing, and spending time with his wife and three kids. [read more]

Dane Country Streams Now Susceptible to Invasive Snails

by Christy Zheng, age 14

A tiny creature is making a big splash in Dane County. The New Zealand mud snail was detected for the second time in the area, and officials are becoming concerned about the invasive mollusk. First discovered three years ago in Black Earth Creek, the snail was recently sighted in Badger Mill Creek in Verona.

Although the snails are only one-eighth of an inch long, they reproduce asexually and can create a colony of one million clones in a year. The snails don’t thrive everywhere, however. Researchers suggest that their numbers tend to spike when they are first observed, and then decline for unknown reasons. One possible explanation is that the snail might have a predator—the aquatic flatworm. [read more]

Wisconsin to Confront Increasing Water Infrastructure Issues Over Next 20 Years

by Cris Cruz, age 14

Wisconsin will face $7 billion in wastewater infrastructure and drinking water needs over the next 20 years, according to a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The state is already confronting a number of water-related challenges. The Wisconsin State Journal and Wisconsin Public Radio cite the mass-contamination of wells in Kewaunee and La Crosse counties, for example. State officials have also recently drawn attention to issues around lead-in-water and pharmaceutical drugs in drinking water. [read more]

Recent Energy & Environment Articles

A plan to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes is in hot water. Recent plans to protect the lakes is meeting opposition from both the Trump administration and some Great Lakes states, despite the support of environmentalists. [read more...]
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), recently predicted that the Great Lakes water levels will rise again this spring for the fifth year in a row. [read more...]
When people think of climate change, they may picture polar bears not having enough ice to stand on and drowning. But recently, only two chicks out of a population of 40,000 Adelie penguins survived, officially placing this species on the endangered species list. The reasons for why this happened are more complicated then rising sea levels. [read more...]
Controversy and concern over lead pipes and safe drinking water is exploding in Milwaukee. New reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and elsewhere show city leaders knew about the situation at least three years ago and delayed taking action. Now citizens and a concerned public are calling lead contamination in the city a “public health crisis.” [read more...]
Just south of Madison, there is a problem with Rock County’s wells. Contaminated water is posing a serious threat to the health of those who live there. The culprit—nitrate. [read more...]
Do you know what plasma is? Many people are not familiar with plasma and do not know where it can be found. [read more...]
Wolverines are powerful and smart creatures. They hunt for their survival in cold, northern climates throughout the world. Their habitats include North America, sub-Arctic islands, Eurasia from Scandinavia to Siberia, and Greenland. [read more...]
Many people in the engineering industries consider wood a weak material and do not perceive it as a viable option for a skyscraper. Architects at Perkins + Will and engineers at Thornton Tomasetti are working together to challenge this belief, however. Partnering with Cambridge University, the team is currently exploring the possibility of multi-story wood buildings. [read more...]
Researchers were surprised when they found an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on the beaches of a tiny unpopulated island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean recently. According to the researchers, the density of the trash was the highest recorded in the world. Welcome to Henderson Island, an 18 sqaure-mile British dependency located about halfway between New Zealand and Chile. [read more...]
The Wisconsin Conservation Corps was a work program aimed at helping public or tribal lands in the state. The program employed more than 11,000 young people during a 20-year run, until it ended. It was eliminated in 2003 by Democratic Governor Jim Doyle and GOP lawmakers due to a 3.2 million dollar budget deficit faced by the state. [read more...]
Climate change has become more of a critical problem than we initially thought. Rising carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere will affect our food supply and cause nutritional issues in the future. [read more...]
In 1998, the aquifer (a reservoir of water located deep underground) under the Madison area dropped to 130 feet, an all time low since when experts began monitoring water levels in the 1930’s. This worried many experts. [read more...]
After the Flint, Michigan water contamination crisis that left Flint residents without clean water for months, Wisconsin is taking steps to help homeowners pay for lead water pipe replacements. [read more...]
Have you ever seen a pink lake? There is a lake at a park in Melbourne, Australia that turns hot-pink every year. It turns pink because the lake contains salt-loving, single-celled germs that make pigments called carotenoids. [read more...]
What does it mean to be ‘’extinct?” For years, most people assumed the answer is simple: once a species no longer lives, it is extinct, and cannot exist going forward. Think of the Woolly Mammoth, or the Passenger Pigeon for example. However, a fascinating new technology could possibly revive extinct species. [read more...]
If a cat has ever licked you, then you know cats' tongues are rough. This is due to the tiny, backward barbs on their tongues called papillae. These barbs are made of keratin, which is the same material that comprises human hair and fingernails. [read more...]
Since the 1800’s, temperatures have increased in abnormal ways, thus spurring global warming. [read more...]
“Derecho” is a Spanish word meaning “straight ahead”. It is also the name for severe thunderstorms with winds up to 150miles per hour. [read more...]
About 250 people died in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The famous, or infamous, Chicago Fire remains a sad and well-known chapter in American history. What many people don’t know is that up to 2,400 people died in a much larger but relatively unknown fire in northeast Wisconsin. The Peshtigo Fire was the deadliest fire in United States history. Both of these fires occurred on the tragic evening of October 8, 1871. [read more...]
A lot of people enjoy a drive through Wisconsin in autumn. Do you ever wonder why the leaves change colors or why they only change during the fall? [read more...]
Plastic is a substance that has contaminated bodies of water, endangered wildlife across the globe, and fascinated humans since the 1950’s. In fact, in fewer than seven decades, humans have produced 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic. Half of this production since 2004. [read more...]
Bread is a food as common as they come. Many eat it almost everyday. So it might surprise you to learn that this seemingly inconspicuous item actually has quite the impact on our environment. [read more...]
Nearly everybody has walked on grass. But did you know that grass grows underwater too? Seagrass is an underwater plant that grows near ocean coasts. In fact, colossal amounts of seagrass surround all of the continents except Antarctica. This greenery improves the health of oceans and is a safe place for young fish, flowers, pollen, and even seeds to thrive. [read more...]
What happens when warm, moist air from Mexico and cool dry air from Canada collide? A tornado occurs. A tornado is a strong rotation of storm wind that reaches the ground. Tornadoes can destroy buildings, knock over trees, and move cars. Each year, there are around 1,000 tornadoes reported nationwide in the U.S. [read more...]
Most buildings nowadays are made of metal. However, the new Festival Foods located on East Washington Avenue took advantage of another organic material: ash and red pine trees. [read more...]
Mary Kolar, District 1 Supervisor and member of the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission, and I recently sat down with James Mills discuss local water issues. He spoke articulately and passionately about his work, the environment, and his perspective on water. [read more...]
The Everglades region is a great natural wonder of the world. Located in the southern part of Florida, this sub-tropical marshland provides a home to thousands of fascinating plants and animals. [read more...]
At exactly 10:30 am on a Thursday morning we welcomed Steve Ottelien into our office at the Dane County Land and Water Resource Department for an interview. This friendly, approachable man had agreed to talk to us about his job as a soil and water conservationist. [read more...]
Michelle Richardson came into our office with a smile on her face and a map in her hand. She is the GIS Analyst at the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department. We spent the morning discussing her career, personal life, and experiences working at the department. She was very kind and conversational, asking us about our school and lives. [read more...]
Last Thursday, I paid a visit to the Jenni and Kyle Preserve, a Dane County Park with a positive mission. Specially designed for people with disabilities, the park is fully accessible to ensure a fun outdoor experience for all. [read more...]
Do you know the difference between dragonflies and mayflies? Each insect's family includes a variety of species; in fact, there are 5,000 species of dragonfly and 2,000 of mayfly. [read more...]
Recently, a sandbox was installed at the Henry Vilas Zoo. But it’s not just any sandbox. It is an Augmented Reality (AR) sandbox that simulates topographic features and water systems to teach people about watersheds. The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department and the Henry Vilas Zoo partnered to construct this educational model for all ages to view. A watershed is a piece of land that drains precipitation into a body of water. The exhibit at Vilas will help citizens of Madison understand how watersheds work. The model also aims to make viewers more aware of where water goes when it runs off their yards and driveways into storm drains, lakes, and streams. [read more...]
Algae, mollusks, and sea anemones all live on coastlines. While wetlands have still waters, coastlines alternate between wet and dry terrain. Perhaps surprisingly, a plethora of interesting species thrive in both of these aquatic environments. [read more...]
Humans see light in a number of ways. Each way depends on light and wavelengths. [read more...]
Over the past year, Wisconsin has revised dozens of permits for high-capacity wells, allowing for an additional billion gallons of groundwater to be extracted. Recently, Wisconsin legislature passed a bill essentially removing the Department of Natural Resources' permit checks when wells are repaired, rebuilt, or transferred. [read more...]
For many Wisconsinites, summer means enjoying the thousands of lakes sprinkled across the state. However, the spread of invasive species can heavily damage these waterways, and even endanger visitors. [read more...]
Over the years, invasive species have made a home in the Mississippi River. But it seems that the Asian carp has yet again found its way into a Chicago waterway that is nine miles from Lake Michigan. It was caught below T.J. O’Brien Lock and Dam by a commercial fisherman working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. This is not the first time an Asian carp has snuck through the three electrical barriers, which are located in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. In 2010, a bighead carp was caught in Lake Calumet. [read more...]
The Simpson Street Free Press interns for the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department recently had the chance to attend a teaching workshop at the UW- Madison Arboretum. It was hosted by the Latino Earth Partnership, an organization that works to promote collaboration between educators and Latino communities. [read more...]
Podemos pensar que los murciélagos son pequeños y feos pero ayudan a las personas. [read more...]
The worldwide food crisis is not new: for decades, scientists have suggested that the world is running out of food for its growing population. But why is this happening, and what can humans do about it? [read more...]
A study in the journal Nature, showed that in the next 50 years, a quarter of the world’s land animals and plants could become extinct. That’s around a million species. [read more...]
For the first time, the Dane County Parks Division has developed a survey as an added outreach effort to get citizen input on their Parks and Open Space Plan. Every five years, the Parks Division updates the plan, but this year they will administer a survey of Dane County residents in English and Spanish. The feedback from the survey will be considered to design the 2018-2023 plan. [read more...]
El cuerpo del delfín es largo y le da la habilidad de nadar con fluidez. Miden de 1.2 a 9 metros y las hembras son de menor tamaño que los machos. Su cerebro es grande y muy desarrollado, por eso el delfín es considerado uno de los animales más inteligentes del mundo. [read more...]
From car seats to cosmetics, you probably use foam products every day. But did you know that commercial foam is fabricated right here in Madison, Wisconsin? [read more...]
Last Tuesday, we sat down with Seth Ebel, a thirty-something civil engineer at the Dane County Land and Water Resources Department. He has the air of a pragmatic idealist: passionate and motivated, yet down-to-earth and committed. [read more...]
Recently, Simpson Street Free Press staff and students had the remarkable opportunity to meet and talk with Hip Hop Caucus CEO Reverend Lennox Yearwood at the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters’ 15th anniversary celebration. [read more...]
Desde los humedales hasta los prados, la diversidad del bioma contribuye a la preservación de recursos naturales y fauna en Wisconsin. El cambio climático, la perdida de prados y la deforestación han reducido algunas de las fuentes de especies más diversas del estado, en las últimas décadas. [read more...]
The Great Barrier Reef, the biggest reef in the world, is currently facing extinction. Before addressing this problem, scientists must first answer one question: what's causing this extinction? Today, they propose a number of different answers. [read more...]
From wetlands to prairies, a diverse range of biomes contributes to the preservation of natural resources and wildlife in Wisconsin. Climate change, prairie loss, and deforestation have reduced some of the state’s richest sources of species diversity over the last couple of decades. [read more...]
The issue of lead in Wisconsin water is critical and widely recognized. However, the debate continues regarding who is financially responsible for repairing lead pipe lines. Recently, a bill was proposed in Wisconsin legislature that would require local water utilities to offer low and no-interest loans and grants to low-income families seeking to replace their service lines. [read more...]
The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters will celebrate its 15th anniversary on June 8. A non-profit, non-partisan organization “dedicated to electing conservation leaders, holding decision makers accountable, and encouraging lawmakers to champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin’s public health and natural resources,” the League will celebrate a decade and a half of advocating for the state’s water, land, and air. [read more...]
Imagine a world without sea turtles. It would certainly be a less interesting place. The sea turtle is amazing, but it is also endangered. In fact, researchers estimate that only 85,000 of these aquatic animals are alive today. [read more...]
A tiny creature is making a big splash in Dane County. The New Zealand mud snail was detected for the second time in the area, and officials are becoming concerned about the invasive mollusk. First discovered three years ago in Black Earth Creek, the snail was recently sighted in Badger Mill Creek in Verona. [read more...]
Wisconsin will face $7 billion in wastewater infrastructure and drinking water needs over the next 20 years, according to a recent report from the American Society of Civil Engineers. [read more...]
One effective way to conserve is to spread awareness about environmental issues. We at Simpson Street Free Press know this well and emphasize energy and environment topics in our curriculum. Members of the Wisconsin chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) recently visited our South Towne newsroom to present a panel around the theme “Conservation and the Environment.” [read more...]
The DNR states that the mission of Wisconsin state parks is “to protect and enhance our natural resources...to ensure the right of all people to use and enjoy these resources in their work and leisure… and in this partnership consider the future and generations to follow.” Unfortunately, these goals may become less attainable with Governor Walker’s recent proposal to eliminate tax support for the state park system. [read more...]
Diamonds are notoriously beautiful, expensive, and luxurious. And now, they're also lab-made. Yes, that's right—that sparkling gem found deep within the Earth can now be produced by scientists. [read more...]
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced recently that $2 million is available in the Urban Water Quality Grant Program for 2017. This is welcome news to county residents seeking to halt the flow of local water pollutants. [read more...]
What would happen if scientists had the ability to eliminate diseases transmitted to humans, like malaria? [read more...]
Milwaukee residents are concerned that lead may be poisoning their water. According to a 2014 report, over eight percent of children tested in the city had blood levels at or above the level indicating lead poisoning. This figure is significantly higher than it is for individuals in Flint, Michigan. An increasing number of Milwaukee citizens are concerned that not enough has been done to address this issue. [read more...]
Did you know that the four lakes of Wisconsin were created by glaciers? Glaciers are huge sheets of ice. Madison was once covered by a glacier as tall as five Capitol buildings stacked on top of each other. Each year, the glacier moved forward, pushing tons of sand and gravel, changing the landscape as it moved. [read more...]
Solar power has taken Wisconsin by storm. In 2015, the state’s installed solar capacity grew by 94 percent and powered more than 3,800 homes. As demand for solar panels has risen, so have associated costs. Recent changes to large-scale energy company’s billing provisions, like We Energies, have made solar power much more expensive. [read more...]
Because of the Clean Air Act of 1970, Wisconsin has some of the cleanest air in the world, said Tracey Holloway, University of Wisconsin-Madison environmental studies professor. To monitor the chemicals in the air, NASA launched the Health and Air Quality Applied Sciences Team, led by environmental studies professor Holloway. Staffed with experts from prestigious institutions across the nation, their project aims to make environmental satellite data more accessible to people around the world. [read more...]
Although the Sun and Moon may appear to be similar from a distance, the two are actually very different. The Sun is a large ball of gas that is full of energy and heat. Seventy three percent of the Sun is made of hydrogen, while 25 percent of it is helium. The remaining two percent is made up of traces of approximately 60 other elements. [read more...]
At the University of Minnesota (UM) in Dakota County, agricultural researchers set up an eight- armed drone to send 200 feet in the air to begin its task. The drone is on the front line of their scientific explorations. Scientists at the UM are testing low-flying drones for their ability to find aphids, a grasshopper-like bug that ravages plants in the Upper Midwest. [read more...]
The Burmese python is an invasive species currently causing severe problems in Florida. In recent years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many other organizations have spent more than six million dollars trying to find a solution to curb this problem. [read more...]
Cries of victory echoed from Standing Rock North Dakota as protestors celebrated news of a planned rerouting of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Army Corps of Engineering announced recently that it would not allow the pipeline to follow the current planned route and will look for alternatives. [read more...]
A recent discovery from a Dane County study found that targeting residual sludge might be the key to mitigating phosphorus pollution in the waterways of southern Wisconsin. This has spurred immediate action by the county, and a new plan by Dane County Executive, Joe Parisi may make waves in Wisconsin environmental efforts. [read more...]
The element carbon is one of the most abundant elements on Earth. People have known about its existence since ancient times, and it still has many uses today. [read more...]
Wisconsin has a long running history with timber wolves, also known as gray wolves. Since 1960, their population has varied significantly. [read more...]
Since the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the issue of lead-contaminated water and lead pipes has gained renewed attention. Since then, many states, including Wisconsin, have taken action to replace the lead water pipes still in use by schools, homes, businesses and other facilities. [read more...]
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced recently that local benefactor Stephen Morton donated 114 acres of forestland to Dane County Parks. Located in the Black Earth/Mazomanie area, the newly-unveiled Morton Forest illuminates many scenic views including the Blue Mound, which is the biggest hill in southern Wisconsin. [read more...]
Gray wolves, a mighty canidae species that roam the vast territories of North America, are currently facing an uncertain future. In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDOI) removed the federal protections for gray wolves in the Western Great Lakes region. They argued that the roughly 6,000 wolves that lived in the region constituted a large enough population for the species not to need protection. With federal protections lifted, states took on the responsibility of managing wolf protections and hunting laws. States such as Minnesota and Wisconsin immediately authorized hunting. In the hunting season immediately following the lifted regulations, hunters in these two states killed a combined total of 530 wolves. The same season, Michigan legislature voted to authorize wolf hunting, beginning the following fall. [read more...]
Organisms as different as penguins, cacti and zebras all share planet earth based on rainfall and temperature, they each occupy different habitats. The habitats that make up planet earth are oceans, wetlands, forest, grasslands, deserts, mountains, and polar habitats. [read more...]
There are many fun things to do during winter, such as snowmobiling and skiing. However, it is possible for winter sports enthusiasts to misjudge weather conditions and get hurt or killed by an avalanche. Today, avalanches kill about 30 people each year; where in the 1950s, this number was much smaller – only four a year. [read more...]
An earthquake can occur at any moment with little to no warning. But where, how, and why do these frightening phenomena happen? California was once the state with the most earthquakes. Now, however, Oklahoma has stolen this reputation. In 2014, the number and magnitude of earthquakes in Oklahoma increased due to both natural and unnatural causes. [read more...]
Technology in cars has advanced throughout the decades, with improvements in fuel-efficiency and design. But the evolution of car engines has brought about a controversial enhancement: fake engine noise. [read more...]
Volcanoes are one of the world’s most fascinating natural features. Although they are majestic and breathtaking, their beauty comes with destruction. Volcanoes have a lot going on outside and inside of them. Volcanologists study seismic data, ground deformation, and minerals in erupted lava to determine the classification of volcanoes. For example, a ‘fissure and rift volcano’ is a linear crack in the Earth from which magma has erupted. A ‘rift volcano’ is caused by eruptions that alternate from side to side. [read more...]
The ground we walk on is only one level of the many-layered planet Earth. Each of the Earth's layers have different thicknesses and unique qualities. The surface of Earth is called the crust and stretches four miles beneath the oceans and 22 miles beneath land. The crust is on top of the lithosphere, which lies on top of the mantle [read more...]
Water pollution is unarguably one of Wisconsin’s biggest environmental problems. The state prides itself on clean lakes and rivers, yet many Wisconsinites are appalled at the findings in a recent report by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In a report, the DNR disclosed Wisconsin’s inability to enforce laws protecting drinking water due to a number of pollutants contaminating lakes and rivers. The pollutants are generated by concentrated animal feeding operations, also known as CAFOs. [read more...]
Wind—we cannot see it, but we can feel it. This natural phenomena is created by warmer air levitating to the sky and colder air sinking down. Warm air is lighter than cold air. Both warm air and cold air rotate as the cold air gets warm and begins to rise. This process creates wind. [read more...]
Yellowstone National Park is home to many different types of plants and animals. From birds like osprey to trees like the lodgepole pine, it is truly a shelter and sanctuary for many species. [read more...]
Wisconsin rivers are threatened, not only because of run-off but also invasive species. Invasive snails and the parasites they carry have recently been added to the list because of the harm they pose toward people and animals. [read more...]
Two Midwestern energy companies plan to shift towards renewable resources. The Lacrosse-based Dairyland Power Cooperative plans to build the first Wisconsin wind farm since 2011. The farm will be located 20 miles southeast of Platteville and construction is projected to begin in 2017. While operating, the turbines would generate enough electricity to power more than 25,000 Midwestern homes. [read more...]
Last year, the United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Soils. A whole year dedicated to dirt? Though it may seem simple, dirt is more important than many people might think. [read more...]
Ticks are feared throughout the states because of the diseases they carry, such as Lymes disease in the East and Rocky Mountains and spotted fever in the West. Now, thanks to a growing population of certain tick species, contracting one of these scary diseases may become more common. [read more...]
Plants don’t eat the way we do. Instead of heading to a grocery store, plants make their own food with sunlight. The complex process of turning sunlight into food energy is called photosynthesis. [read more...]
Did you know that there are many levels of endangered species, not just one? Being “endangered” means the population of a species is becoming dangerously low. [read more...]
Polar bears are in a crisis due to Arctic Ice melting in Canada, a 2016 study published by Canadian researchers in Arctic Science suggests. Three decades of melting ice has caused substantial weight loss among the Earth’s most southern group of polar bears, the study indicates. [read more...]
Pollution is a bad thing for the world. There are many types of pollution including water and air pollution. Water pollution can involve putting trash and chemicals into the water, whereas air pollution can involve the air becoming so thick that you might even see it or have problems breathing. [read more...]
You know what they say, the stirrings of a butterfly's wings might cause a hurricane. However, butterflies’ wings have been stirring a lot less lately. [read more...]
Whether you are a child or an adult, love is important for everyone - even animals. Unfortunately, not every animal has the opportunity to find love. [read more...]
Spring has finally sprung. Hello flowers, bees, and honey! But how is honey made? Honey is a very versatile food. People use it to sweeten drinks and foods, eat it plain, or put it on food as a topping. However, there is a long process before this sweet goo ends up on your plate. [read more...]
Have you heard of the famous meat-eating plant? It’s called the Venus flytrap. Insects are attracted to the Venus flytrap for several reasons. The unique shape of its leaves appears inviting and safe. It also offers nectar. As soon as an insect nears the plant, its quick leaves spring to life. [read more...]
Simpson Street Free Press is known for hosting academic panels and events throughout the year. Especially vital to the Free Press curriculum is our “Women in Science, Math, and Technology” series. This April, two nuclear engineering students from University of Wisconsin-Madison’s American Nuclear Society (ANS) came to SSFP’s South Towne newsroom to deliver another event in this series. [read more...]
Earth is about 93 million miles away from the sun. Its temperature is between the extremely hot Venus, and freezing cold Mars. It's average global temperature is 59 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas Venus has an average global temperature of 890.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but Mars' average global temperature is -255 degrees Fahrenheit. [read more...]
For many years, people all around the world have tried to predict or detect approaching earthquakes to prevent deaths and major disasters. [read more...]
In Flint, Michigan, people have unwittingly ingested lead-infused water due to a change of water sources. But how do they find out where people are getting poisoned and who has lead in their blood? [read more...]
Bananas are not just a healthy food and good source of potassium in people's diet. They can help humans in other ways too. For example, bananas can be used for electrical wiring and cosmetics. [read more...]
The Wisconsin State Assembly recently voted to lift a restriction on nuclear power production in the state. Assembly Bill 384 now goes to the Senate. Democrats and Republicans alike support the bill. [read more...]
Without thinking about where it comes from or how safe it is, many Americans drink bottled water every day. The truth is, a bottle of “spring water” may have come from a well in a parking lot or near a dangerous garbage dump. [read more...]
Different regions call hurricanes by different names. In North America and the Caribbean, they are mostly known as hurricanes. But in Australia, they are known as “willy-willies.” No matter what we call them, they are very dangerous storms that affect tropical areas. These powerful storms can kill or injure people and destroy buildings along the coast. [read more...]
Recently, the world mourned for Cecil the lion of Zimbabwe, who was illegally shot and killed by Minnesota dentist. Unfortunately, some of the world’s rarest animals are taken from their habitats to be bred illegally and sold as pets. [read more...]
For some people, drinking eight cups of water a day sounds like a lot. Elephants, on the other hand, consume 20 to 40 gallons of water per day. These giants are some of the largest and smartest mammals roaming the earth today. [read more...]
Did you know lightning strikes the earth 100 times per second? When lightning strikes the positive and negative air molecules that surround the lightning bolt are so hot, a small explosion occurs! The quick movement of the air surroundings the bolt makes the roaring sound we know as thunder. [read more...]
Did you know the Bengal tiger loves water the most out of all the big cats? It uses this feature to its advantage in the tropical climate of northeastern India and Bangladesh. While the Bengal tiger uses the water to bathe or cool off, they also use it to find prey. [read more...]
Across the world, millions of people burn heat their homes and feed their families using the fuel from thousands of trees. Because of this, forests and their animal inhabitants are suffering. World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a conservation organization, recently launched an initiative to regain environments lost to human destruction. Specifically, they increased the amount of biogas stoves in Nepal. [read more...]
Wind farms are a great source of energy. In the past, however, they have had a complicated relationship with wildlife. Yet, wind farms among British and German waters have recently been beneficial for marine creatures like harbor seals [read more...]
Nuclear energy, produced by the combination of protons and neutrons inside atomic nuclei, is the energy that allows stars to shine so brightly. Two kinds of reactions release this energy: fission and fusion. [read more...]
Madison Gas and Electric (MG&E) says it will sponsor a series of community talks on energy conservation and community energy issues beginning this month. MG&E Chief Executive Gary Wolter, who announced the Community Energy Conversation initiative April 30, wants the company to become the “utility of the future” by addressing the energy-related problems that most affect customers' lives. [read more...]
Wisconsin is ready to handle U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's upcoming pollution standards according to two environmental groups. In fact, Wisconsin has been doing so well that the state’s proposed carbon dioxide levels for 2030 are 30 percent below what they were in 2005. [read more...]
Pollution and waste cost lots of money. However, there are tips to save money and the environment. Reducing the ecological footprint should be a goal for everyone. [read more...]
A limestone masterpiece, the Great Barrier Reef is constructed entirely of coral. [read more...]
Since 1946, the U.S. honeybee population has decreased by half. Around the world, honeybees are disappearing at a similarly rapid pace. This trend has scientists concerned: diversity in the fruits and vegetables people eat would decrease too, since some crops are almost entirely dependent on bee pollination. In fact, according to TIME magazine, “1 in every 3 mouthfuls of food you’ll eat today” is, in some part, thanks to bees. [read more...]
Think you saw the stars at the last Oscars? Let me tell you about the real stars in the greatest show on earth. At a star party, which anyone can have, family and friends can gather to gaze at nature's most beautiful nightlights. [read more...]
“All rocks are on a journey. They have a spirit, a power, a mystery: When you pick up those rocks make sure you put them back again.” --Mike Wiggins, Bad River Tribal Chairman. [read more...]
As the global population continues to expand, demands for energy have skyrocketed. With Earth’s limited supplies of fossil fuels, however, it is apparent that new forms of renewable energy must be found and developed in order to meet these demands. [read more...]
Evansville High School student and Simpson Street Free Press teen editor Sylvan Bachhuber received a $25,000 scholarship to attend Conserve School in Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin. This makes her the second Free Press student accepted by the Conserve School this year. [read more...]
Aiming to reduce pollution, the state of California recently enacted the first law in the country that bans the use of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores. [read more...]
Even though the infamous nuclear disaster at the Ukrainian Chernobyl plant happened almost 30 years ago, life around this epicenter is still affected by the explosion. [read more...]
Decreases in Arctic ice have scientists wondering if this melting could affect local weather patterns. Shrinking to the size of Texas in 2012, arctic ice is at a record low and may explain recent, more intense weather in Wisconsin [read more...]
The Arctic can be a cold and desolate place. But with the help of new technological advances and the diligent migrant workers labor, the opportunity for more people to work and live there is expanding. [read more...]
The last eight years have seen a great decline in the honeybee population. Currently, President Obama is stepping up to address this problem. In the past few years, researchers have been working to understand why millions of bees have been leaving their homes and not coming back. This phenomenon is called colony collapse disorder (CCD). [read more...]
Carp, a non-native species of fish, are polluting lakes and marshes almost everywhere in North America. Fast growing aquatic creatures, carp can reach 10 to 11 inches, outgrow their predators, and live for decades. [read more...]
Peregrine falcons are often recognized for their vast travels; in fact, the word “peregrine” translates to “wanderer.” During migration season, some of these falcons even travel up to 15,500 miles. Despite such lengthy travels, the amazing homing instincts of these falcons allow them to return to their favorite nests, some of which have been used for centuries. [read more...]
California and Nevada are facing droughts more severe and long-lasting than lasting any in the past 40 years. The recent lack of rain has led to wildfires, damaged animal habitats, new rules and fines. [read more...]
It is hard to imagine a world in which pollution is not an issue. Believe it or not, such a place does exist: in northern Europe, Sweden is one such world. [read more...]
A teenager from Dorseyville Middle School, in Pennsylvania recently discovered a way to save the government millions of dollars. The solution: a change in font type. [read more...]
It was a misty afternoon when we decided to venture out to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center. As we pulled up the long and winding road towards the Center, we were greeted by a couple of sandhill cranes. We could tell this was going to be a trip to remember! [read more...]
During a recent tour of the newly expanded Aldo Leopold Nature Center, executive director Camille Zanoni shared some alarming data with Free Press student writers. Zanoni said that children spend only one percent of their time outside. This directly correlates with a rise in childhood obesity, depression, ADD/ADHD, and cardiovascular problems. [read more...]
In China, about 60 percent of underground water is polluted, which emphasizes China’s environmental distress. China’s land and resource ministry identified 4,778 testing areas in 203 cities, of those 44 percent had “pretty bad” underground water quality and the groundwater in another 15.7 percent tested very badly. [read more...]
Recent studies indicate that the elusive West African lion may be more endangered than previously thought. For six years, Phillip Henschel, Lion Program Survey Coordinator for the big-cat conservation program Panthera, and his team searched for this rare species. The team's results suggest that the population of this sub-species is approximately 400 lions--only 250 of which are mature and breeding. [read more...]
Many animals camouflage themselves to ward off predators. But animals are not alone in this ability. Some plants camouflage themselves as well. The Lithops plant is one of a few plants that not only blends in with a particular rock formation but also adopts the rock’s color and texture. [read more...]
When Jacob Gillizter went to the Department of Natural Resources to get approval to fish in a local creek for a school project, he was told it would be a waste of time. [read more...]
For thousands of years, we have known the power of winds. In Greek mythology, the demigod Aeolus captured gusting winds in hollowed-out mountains, and released them by stabbing his sword into the earth. Today, scientists harken back to this notion, asking, can we store wind in rock? [read more...]
A new invasive species has been discovered in Wisconsin’s lake system. Until 2012, New Zealand mud snails had only been found in the western United States. A lab at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point analyzed a sample of water detected at Black Earth Creek and detected the presence of snails in Wisconsin waters. There were only a few asexual clones of the snails, which helped the scientists determine that the snails were from Colorado. It is possible that they came by way of a sport fisherman. [read more...]
Previously just the glimmer of an idea, Spring Harbor Middle School’s very own greenhouse will soon become a reality. David Ropa, Spring Harbor’s seventh grade science teacher, is the man behind it all. [read more...]
With this winter’s record-breaking fronts, the depth of ice covering Madison’s lakes may have been the least of your worries - unless you spend your time fishing on it. With the worst of the winter season behind us, however, you may begin to wonder: when is all the ice going to melt? [read more...]
As a full-blooded African, everything in my genes leads me to cringe at the thought of anything related to cold. Recently, however, something fascinating happened in my adopted home state of Wisconsin. This year’s harsh winter allowed for spectacular ice caves to emerge along the shores of Lake Superior. Even someone of my heritage can appreciate the allure of these natural wonders. [read more...]
Radon is a poisonous gas often found in homes. It causes lung cancer and is responsible for about 21,000 deaths per year in the U.S. That’s about 4,000 more deaths per year than caused by drunk driving and 19,000 more than are caused by house fires. [read more...]
Just a couple years ago, the Japanese beetle terrorized Wisconsin’s farmlands and natural vegetation. After many years of havoc, southern Wisconsin seems to have moved past the worst of the invasion. [read more...]
There is a type of vine that is relentlessly strangling the Forests of Central and South America. They are known as lianas. Some scientists call them tree-hugging villains. [read more...]
Monona’s recent partnership with Falcon Energy Systems, a Colorado-based investment company, will result in 382 solar panels on top of four of the city’s public facilities by the end of this year. [read more...]
According to a recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission voted unanimously to freeze MGE’s base rates for gas and electricity until January of next year. [read more...]
If you drive out the 800 block of East Washington Avenue in Madison, it is easy to see that the area is run down. Over the years, the neighborhood has been home to machine shops and other industrial businesses, but many now sit vacant. [read more...]
The local biotechnology firm Virent, recently profiled by Mike Ivey in The Capital Times, is developing an alternative to crude oil. Their patented process converts plant material into a solution with a chemical makeup nearly identical to gasoline. This fraternal twin of gasoline is called a “drop-in fuel” because it is already compatible with existing engines, but will not have the same harmful environmental impact as crude oil. [read more...]
Dane County recently reached an agreement with the Bruce Company to pur-chase hundreds of acres of land along the Sugar River. This historic purchase is the county’s largest-ever acquisition of river frontage and creates countless new opportuni-ties for outdoor recreation. [read more...]
Wind is the movement of air. Air moves because of differences in the pressure system. Wind blows from places of higher pressure to places of lower pressure. When it is cold, the air pressure is higher than when it is warm. High winds can form hurricanes, tornadoes, and typhoons. [read more...]
As gas prices rise, the need for alternative sources of energy is a national issue. Many observers say compressed natural gas (CNG) is one important answer. It is a clean-burning fossil fuel that has gained the attention of the automotive industry. [read more...]
A recent boom in natural gas is causing a new controversy. Natural gas wells are springing up all around the country due to the high interest in natural gas. In 2000, the U.S. had 342,000 natural gas wells. By 2010, this number swelled to 510,000. [read more...]
Planet Earth is warming. Most scientists agree that human activity, like the burning of fossil fuels, contributes to this warming trend. When fossil fuels are widely used, gases, mainly carbon dioxide, get trapped in the atmosphere. Science has known about this trend for decades. And regardless of what side you take in the debates about global warming, climate change is affecting life on Earth. [read more...]
As part of an effort to become more “green”, St. Mary’s Hospital recently implemented a ban on plastic water bottles. To encourage more eco-friendly operations the hospital will no longer sell or distribute water in plastic containers. [read more...]
Approximately one-third of all Americans consume bottled water every day without thinking about where this water comes from, how well it is regulated, or how safe it is to drink. [read more...]
Thousands of years ago, the Great Wall of China was built to keep out Mongols and other invaders. Now, a similar wall might be built across Africa to keep out a different enemy ⎯ sand. [read more...]
Environmental issues are hot topics these days. The Earth’s great glaciers are melting, oceans are more polluted, and many animal species are being pushed to extinction. The following account, however, is little known. But it is something that needs to be brought to our attention. [read more...]
On Colombia’s Caribbean coast, hundreds of unique bird species flourish in the area around Santa Marta. These birds are endemic to the area, meaning they cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Recently, Laura Cardenas, a researcher of migratory birds, re-discovered a hummingbird previously thought to be extinct. [read more...]
Developing new ways to cut back on greenhouse gases is a high priority for scientists. Researchers in the United Kingdom recently discovered a most unusual way to reduce agricultural methane emissions. Methane is one of the most damaging of the greenhouse gases. [read more...]
Black clouds from a coal-fired power plant on Charter Street help create an ever-expanding carbon footprint in downtown Madison. But this bleak image of a coal-fired power plant on the University of Madison-Wisconsin campus will soon change. The power plant, built in the 1950's and now powering the 42,000-student campus, is currently being converted to be a more environmentally-friendly. [read more...]
In the Gulf of Mexico exists the world’s second largest dead zone—a five thousand square mile expanse of water where underwater life struggles to exist. This oxygen-deprived area of the Gulf supports a thriving population of algae blooms, which feed off farmland runoff. [read more...]
The debate about ethanol biofuel is getting particularly stormy in Wisconsin. Wisconsin has long been an industry leader in producing ethanol as a fuel additive through the process of distilling corn into alcohol. While subsidies, tariffs on imported ethanol, and ethanol tax credits have supported the ethanol industry, this financial incentive and profit cushion is increasingly threatened by impending expiration of ethanol tax credits. These credits are set to end this year. The 2008 Farm Bill also reduced ethanol tax credits, by about 6 cents per gallon. [read more...]
Currently, fossil fuels are the main fuel source humans use. The problem is that fossil fuels take millions of years to form and are non-renewable. Scientists and entrepreneurs continue to examine the potential of ethanol as a fuel source. [read more...]
Landfills attract many types of animals. Rodents and small birds come to these places to find food. Raptors or birds of prey are attracted to the dumps by the large amount of rodents. Since one raptor can eat 1,800 rodents a year, these birds of prey help control the rodent population. Unfortunately, raptors looking for a quick meal can get burned by the landfill’s methane burners. [read more...]
Scientists are cooking up some new renewable energy ideas in efforts to cut methane emissions. Animals, especially livestock, produce a greenhouse gas called methane. This gas traps heat with 25 times the efficiency of carbon dioxide. The trillions of farm animals around the world generate 18 percent of the emissions that are contributing to the rising of global temperatures. These emissions increase with the growing worldwide demand for meat. [read more...]