Can Human Medicine Cure a Coral Epidemic?

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 13

New research indicates that antibiotics used in humans can also help sick coral.

Corals are marine invertebrates that often form compact colonies of many identical individuals. Coral species include the important reef builder species that inhabit tropical oceans. The best known example on Planet Earth is the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia.

Recent research proves that certain antibiotics have a positive effect on corals as they try to recover from a tissue-eating disease. This disease is caused by bacteria located in the coral's outer parts. The bacteria start to form and latch onto the coral until it dies. [read more]

New Recycling Technologies Needed to Combat Plastic Pollution

by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 14

Recycling plastic has become a big issue in today’s world. Millions of tons of plastics enter landfills while few are recycled. In fact, there are only two kinds of plastics that are commonly recycled in the United States. These plastics are polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which are the main components of soda bottles, milk jugs and detergent containers. Due to limited recycling capabilities and low recycling rates, scientists are developing new technologies to improve recycling in the future.

The main issue in recycling involves processing and sorting the material. Typically, plastics are sorted at a recovering facility where they are shredded, melted and remolded. However, this only works well for products such as bottles and containers while other packaging or plastic film materials take more effort. There are several types of plastic being used in the production of such material..

Geoffrey Coates, a chemist at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., states, “Most plastics are like oil and water.” Plastics don’t easily combine and some objects are made of multiple types of plastic. This makes separating the different plastics in products very difficult. [read more]

Fish Population Collapsing from Extensive Commercial Harvest

by Samuel Garduno, age 14

Seafood is loved all over the world and contains protein and healthy fats, but overfishing has become a threat to aquatic wildlife due to high demand and improving technology. For instance, overfishing of the bluefin tuna, a fish often enjoyed raw in sushi, has reduced the number of egg-producing tuna by 71-79 percent since 1970. One way that we can prevent overfishing is by switching to more sustainable methods in order to catch what is necessary, while also saving many sea creatures.

Advances in technology have led to fishers harvesting more than 170 billion pounds of sea wildlife every year. However, some of these methods are harmful. Two common examples are purse seining and longlining. Purse seining is a technique that involves a large net to trap a vast number of fish by triggering the net’s drawstring. This method is harmful because in some cases, it can interfere with fish breeding. Longlining, as the name suggests, uses a long main line, which can be up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) long, along with other smaller lines filled with bait hooks that are branched out and hauled by a boat. Like purse seining, longlining allows fishers to catch hundreds, if not thousands, of fish at a time. Unfortunately, both purse seining and longlining can lead to bycatch, which are animals that are unintentionally caught. For example, longlinging’s main catch is the bluefin tuna, but swordfish, birds, and sea turtles are caught as well, harming their populations. [read more]

Massive Ship Catches Fire in Sri Lanka!

by Allison Torres, age 12

Recently, a large container ship, the X-Press Pearl, caught on fire and sank off the coast of Sri Lanka and filled its west coast beaches with oil and plastic debris. The ship, based in Singapore, was carrying cosmetics and chemicals, including some substances that are very harmful to the environment.

The ship contained tons of oil and tiny plastic pellets, which are harmful to marine life because they release microplastic fragments into the water. When the ship caught on fire and remained on fire for multiple days, it released these substances into the water and onto nearby beaches. Chemicals and cosmetics are washing up onto the beach of Negombo, a place with a lot of tourism.

The navy of Sri Lanka and the Indian navy along with other experts tried to clean the waters near the ship. The navy wanted to move the ship further into the sea so it didn’t affect the fishing in the town, as it is their main source of food. Soldiers started cleaning operations on the beaches, but, unfortunately the ship sank as it was being towed out to sea, which makes the ongoing cleanup efforts more difficult. [read more]

The Incalculable Toll of Plastic Polution

by Dyami Rodriguez, age 16

In the North Pacific Ocean, there is a huge accumulation of marine debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Reaching from California to Japan, the trash collects mainly because there are four currents all moving clockwise forming a vortex that keeps the waste from escaping.

The currents within the Pacific Ocean all work together to form a gyre, which is a giant system of currents concentrating the trash in one place. While the current outside of the Pacific Trash Vortex is fast-paced, the center of the vortex is calm. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, however, is not just one big island of trash. Instead it consists of a western and eastern patch containing many small and large patches, some being up to 15 meters long. There is a larger current that moves trash back and forth from the western and eastern patch called the Subtropical Convergence Zone (C zone). While the C zone moves the refuse back and forth, other currents take the litter and move it more toward the calmer center.

The vortex was discovered by Charles Moore in 1997 during a yachting race. The largest amount of the trash comes from onland sources while 20% comes from marine sources, such as fishing nets and discarded plastic. Plastic is a huge danger since it is not biodegradable. Instead, it does something called photodegradation, meaning the sun breaks down plastic into smaller pieces called microplastics. Overtime, microplastics ooze bad chemicals into the ocean hurting the environment and animals. [read more]

Wisconsin Oil Pipeline Leak Went Unreported for Over a Year

by Sydney Steidl, age 15

Over 1,200 gallons of petroleum were spilled from an underground pipeline leak near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, in Spring of 2019, yet regulators were not notified for nearly a year and a half.

Workers for Enbridge Energy, the company that owns the pipeline, first noticed an odd smell during a routine visit to the site on April 26, 2019. A loose joint in the pipes was found on May 4, a temporary fix was made on May 17, and the pipe was permanently fixed a few weeks later. However, the spill went unreported to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) until July 13 of 2020, more than one year later.

When Enbridge first informed the DNR, they stated that 1.35 gallons of diluent, a petroleum material used for thinning crude oil, had leaked into the soil. This estimate proved to be greatly inaccurate, as the amount was later reported to be 1,225 to 1,386 gallons. Toxic chemicals contaminated at least 130 tons of soil, affecting about 3.5 acres of farmland about half a mile from the Rock River. [read more]

Extensive Drought May Have Ended the Mayan Empire

by Allison Torres, age 12

The fall of the Mayan empire remains a mystery, but today’s scientists believe they’ve found clues to understand how the empire collapsed. For 3000 years, the Mayans lived in Mesoamerica where they made creative structures and built an advanced community. After reaching their peak in power, the empire collapsed in only 150 years. A variety of explanations have been proposed over the years, including deforestation and overpopulation. But recent studies of muddy sediment at Lake Chichancanab, which was once a part of the Mayan empire, show evidence that drought was the major reason that caused the collapse.

By taking sediment core samples of layers of mud, scientists are able to study past environments. Specifically, in this study at Lake Chichancanab, researchers looked at a soft mineral called gypsum. Scientists know that during drought water evaporates, leaving behind gypsum. They found large amounts of this mineral in the area of the lake which suggested the region experienced extreme dry periods. Researchers believe that yearly rainfall in the Maya lowlands decreased an average of 50 percent from the years 800 to 1000 C.E. At extreme drought levels, rainfall decreased up to 70 percent. This time of drought correlates with the time that the empire was abandoned.

The effects of droughts are still seen today. In the United States, drought has caused economic losses of about nine billion dollars per year. Additionally, studies show that the environment is taking longer to recover or never fully recovers after drought. Some scientists argue that climate change will cause more “mega-droughts” in the future. [read more]

PFAS Contaminate Groundwater Near Dane County Airport

by Gabriella Shell, age 14

Recent tests have revealed extremely high levels of dangerous contaminants called PFAS in the groundwater near former firefighting training grounds at the Dane County Regional Airport.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends no more than 70 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS in drinking water, an environmental contractor hired by the Dane County Airport found an excess of 68,000 ppt in groundwater at a site along Darwin Road. Another site, near Pearson Street, had PFAS levels over 20,000 ppt.

These two sites were used as firefighter training grounds in the 1950s through the 1980s, and are known as “burn pits.” The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources attributed the contamination at these sites to Dane County, the City of Madison, and the Wisconsin Air National Guard. [read more]

As Weather Warms, Dane County Park Officials
Urge Public to Avoid Muddy Areas

by Alan Cruz, age 16

During the next few weeks, Dane County Parks staff will watch park facilities closely. Winter-spring transitions can lead to damage in county parks. Warm temperatures and rain pull frost from the earth during the spring thaw. This causes trails, dog-parks, and grassy areas to get muddy and soft.

A recent press release warns park guests that some county parks or sections of parks might be temporarily shut down over the next few weeks.  

Due to the closure of these parks and facilities, County staff requests that park visitors to remain on hard paths and roads. Understanding the value of outdoor recreational spaces for the community, staff wants people to know that “the spring thaw period combined with high use can have long-term impacts, especially on hiking trails.” [read more]

As Wildlife Moves North, Will Driftless Landscapes Provide a Refuge from Climate Change?

by Abigail Comerford, age 16

Climate change has been an issue for decades, and currently scientists are concerned about how it's affecting plant and animal species across the country. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures are expected to rise two to four degrees in the next century, already having risen 1.5 degrees centigrade in the last century.

Jack Williams, a UW-Madison geologist and geographer claims that this is comparable to the rising of temperatures around 8,000 and 19,000 years ago when Earth came out of the last ice age. However, the difference today lies in the fact that the climate is warming at a much faster rate. As expected, this global change in temperature is threatening the lives of plants and animals everywhere.

“Climate change is happening about 10 times faster than the recovery after the ice age,” says Ryan O’Connor, conservative ecologist with the DNR on a technical advisory committee for the project. “Species just can't keep up.” [read more]

Our Camping Trip to Pattison State Park

by Jazmin Becerril Gonzalez, age 13

On a warm Sunday this summer, my family and I went camping for three nights in Pattison State Park in Superior, Wisconsin to celebrate my birthday. This state park has the highest waterfall in Wisconsin, Big Manitou Falls, which is 165 feet tall. The park sits on 1,476 acres of land.

After a long car ride from Madison to Superior, we finally arrived at the park around three o’clock in the afternoon. My first impression of the campsite was that it was very well-kept and clean. There are 59 family campsites, some with electricity if needed. My family of four, plus our big dog, brought a two room tent to stay in.

There are approximately 54 species of mammals and 200 species of birds in the park. Reptiles and amphibians, like toads, frogs, and salamanders, also live there. I almost stepped on a snake that was small and green with little yellow stripes. It scared my whole family! [read more]

Ecosystems Are Not Bouncing Back from Droughts. This Is a New and Worrying Problem

by Desteny Alvarez, age 15

Droughts are estimated to become more common and extreme in many regions since global temperatures continue to rise. A recent study with NASA shows that land ecosystems have been slowly taking longer to recover from droughts in the 20th century, leading to tree death and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

A study team led by Christopher Schwalm of Woods Hole Research Center, Falmouth, Massachusetts, which included a scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, estimated the recovery times following droughts in different regions of the world. They used climate model predictions confirmed by observations on NASA's Terra satellite and ground measurements from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument. Based on the data that they gathered, the researchers concluded that recovery from droughts took longer in all the regions they studied.

Schwalm mentioned that, in model projections which did not take on new greenhouse restrictions, the "Time between drought events will likely become shorter than the time needed for land ecosystems to recover from them." [read more]

A Tragic End to a 9,000 Mile Journey

by Zainab Yahiaoui, age 14

OR-54, a beloved and well-known gray wolf, died recently in California, having played an important role in enhancing the grey wolf population. Only recently has the federal government passed a law making the gray wolf endangered in California and Oregon, an effort meant to protect the species.

In 2017, OR-54 gained fame by traveling almost 9,000 miles from Oregon to California—two places where wolves had been wiped out and then reintroduced.

Her journey started in Oregon where the Fish and Wildlife Service, an organization that keeps track of endangered species, started to follow her whereabouts. They used a radio collar to monitor her travel from Oregon to California to find a mate. Her journey lasted from 2017 until this year, when she died in California from unknown causes. [read more]

Dane County Plans New 18-Megawatt Solar Farm

by Virginia Quach

Discussions about renewable energy are always critical topics here in Dane County. These issues are especially relevant in today as climate change and other global issues have sparked the need for more sustainable practices and alternative ways to produce energy.

At a local level, counties often take the lead toward a sustainable future. In fact, recent land purchases by Dane County are important steps for expanding and supplying renewable energy to our area.

Recently, Dane County purchased 120 acres of land east of the town of Cottage Grove to create a new solar farm. The county hopes to begin this new project in 2021. It’s part of a plan that will broaden the local availability and use of renewable energy. The purchased land includes 109 acres of farmland which was recently bought for $2.5 million along with an adjacent county-owned portion. [read more]

The Emerald Ash Borer is a Threat in Wisconsin

by Leilani McNeal, age 14

The emerald ash borer is a non-native invasive beetle from East Asia. It is infamously known for invading the precious ash trees in North America, particularly in Michigan and Wisconsin. It destroys the trees by disrupting the flow of nutrients below the bark.

The insect was first discovered in North America in 2002 in an area near Detroit, Michigan, as a result of statewide devastation. Bill McNee recently visited Michigan and stated that “the region is rebounding as replacement trees take hold.” McNee is a forest health specialist with the DNR in Oshkosh and has, over the past decade, thoroughly inspected the insects in the two states.

[read more]

Aquatic Invasive Species Pose a Risk to Wisconsin Water Ways

by Giovanni Tecautl, age 14

Do you know what is happening to our water bodies? Oftentimes unintentionally, boaters are starting to contaminate our waters with animals and plants that belong to foreign waters. As a boat travels, many small species stick to the bottom of the boat and to other boating equipment, bringing them to local waters. This is causing damage.

AIS, or aquatic invasive species, are plants or animals that do not belong in one lake and are brought to another lake by a boat and other boating equipment. AIS can spread rapidly. The Yahara Chain of Lakes is a popular cluster of lakes in the Madison area. They also serve as super-spreaders of AIS. AIS found in the Yahara Chain of Lakes include Zebra Mussels, Eurasian Watermilfoil, Spiny Water Fleas, and Curly Leaf Pond Weed.

[read more]

Plastic Pollution Is a Global Crisis

by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 13

The amount of plastic pollution in our oceans has grown rapidly over the last 40 years. At this rate, plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the oceans by the year 2050.

Plastic pollution has very direct and deadly effects on sea life, killing thousands of marine animals each year. Around 700 species eat and get caught in plastic waste. Fish in the North Pacific Ocean ingest 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic annually, which leads to intestinal damage and death. Scientists estimate that half of the world’s sea turtles have eaten plastic. Sixty percent of all seabird species have ingested plastic and that number is predicted to climb to 90% in the next 20 years. Marine mammals can also die from getting caught in plastic, packing bands being the most common entangling material. [read more]

Madison Fights Climate Change Using Solar Energy

by Josepha Da Costa, age 14

Climate change is a very pressing issue in our world today. It happens when the climate changes abnormally due to too many fossil fuels being burned at once, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide gases into the atmosphere. Due to climate change, the earth is slowing burning, causing problems like frequent powerful storms, animals dying off, and abnormal weather. To help stop climate change, the City of Madison has created a program to bring solar energy to communities in need. Solar energy converts energy from the sun into electricity.

According to an article in the Wisconsin State Journal by Chris Hubbuch, this new program Madison has created, called the Backyard Solar program, will help low-income families benefit from electricity and resources that come from solar energy. [read more]

Recent Energy & Environment Articles

For nearly 100 years, scientists believed the Fernandina giant tortoise, native to the Galapagos Islands, had gone extinct. That changed when a recent expedition discovered evidence of this mysterious species on a remote island. Now, recent science is exploring how the tortoises’ population could make a comeback. [read more...]
New research indicates that antibiotics used in humans can also help sick coral. Corals are marine invertebrates that often form compact colonies of many identical individuals. Coral species include the important reef builder species that inhabit tropical oceans. The best known example on Planet Earth is the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. [read more...]
Recycling plastic has become a big issue in today’s world. Millions of tons of plastics enter landfills while few are recycled. In fact, there are only two kinds of plastics that are commonly recycled in the United States. These plastics are polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) which are the main components of soda bottles, milk jugs and detergent containers. Due to limited recycling capabilities and low recycling rates, scientists are developing new technologies to improve recycling in the future. [read more...]
Do you know how avalanches are created? Avalanches usually develop after prolonged snowfalls, and they can occur frequently in mountainous areas. [read more...]
Tsunamis are very dangerous and are often scary, but you can survive them. [read more...]
In the North Pacific Ocean, there is a huge accumulation of marine debris called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Reaching from California to Japan, the trash collects mainly because there are four currents all moving clockwise forming a vortex that keeps the waste from escaping. [read more...]
Seafood is loved all over the world and contains protein and healthy fats, but overfishing has become a threat to aquatic wildlife due to high demand and improving technology. For instance, overfishing of the bluefin tuna, a fish often enjoyed raw in sushi, has reduced the number of egg-producing tuna by 71-79 percent since 1970. One way that we can prevent overfishing is by switching to more sustainable methods in order to catch what is necessary, while also saving many sea creatures. [read more...]
Did you know that over 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic exist in the ocean today? More surprisingly, there are four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer beneath the surface, and nearly 269,000 tons of microfibers litter the surface. Ocean trash is a major environmental concern that scientists have only begun to understand. [read more...]
Over the last several decades, the proliferation of disposable plastics has emerged as one of the most critical threats to the environment. Plastic pollution is especially problematic in impoverished Asian and African countries, where waste collection services are frequently ineffective or nonexistent. Even developed countries, especially those with low recycling rates, are having difficulty collecting discarded plastics in a proper manner. [read more...]
The monarch butterfly is possibly going to be included on the U.S. government’s endangered species list. This issue stems from global warming, urban development, and herbicides. [read more...]
Are you interested in helping the local environment and learning more about native plant species in Wisconsin? If so, the Dane County Land and Resources Department has a fun and educational opportunity for you. [read more...]
The fall of the Mayan empire remains a mystery, but today’s scientists believe they’ve found clues to understand how the empire collapsed. For 3000 years, the Mayans lived in Mesoamerica where they made creative structures and built an advanced community. After reaching their peak in power, the empire collapsed in only 150 years. [read more...]
Over 1,200 gallons of petroleum were spilled from an underground pipeline leak near Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, in Spring of 2019, yet regulators were not notified for nearly a year and a half. [read more...]
Did you know that most sweets that you eat are probably not organic? Organic foods are naturally grown without chemicals. Organic farming has a lot of benefits, from helping the soil to even helping our health. There are several types of organic farming. [read more...]
Wisconsin’s gray wolf population increased by 13 percent in one year according to a survey conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) between April 2019 and April 2020. This growth is attributed to the protections put in place by the federal Endangered Species Act in 1974. That rapid growth led to gray wolves being removed from the federal endangered species list in late 2020. [read more...]
Recent tests have revealed extremely high levels of dangerous contaminants called PFAS in the groundwater near former firefighting training grounds at the Dane County Regional Airport. [read more...]
Climate change has been an issue for decades, and currently scientists are concerned about how it's affecting plant and animal species across the country. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures are expected to rise two to four degrees in the next century, already having risen 1.5 degrees centigrade in the last century. [read more...]
Madison was ranked 64th least sustainable out of 100 big cities by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Two companies with bases in Madison, Xcel Energy and Alliant Energy, are seeking to change that ranking by investing in solar farms. [read more...]
Over one hundred years ago, the Acker family converted 160 acres of wetlands and prairies into a dairy farm. In 2019, Dane County purchased the property for an unprecedented $10 million—the largest land purchase for conservation purposes in the county’s history. Restoration of the farmland to its original ecosystems is currently underway, an effort that will advance flood mitigation efforts and improve water quality, among other benefits. [read more...]
Did you know scientists estimate that there are currently only 25,000 polar bears left in the world? And, due to global warming, some scientists have predicted a large portion of the polar bear population will be gone by 2100. The increasing temperatures are melting arctic sea ice, which affects the polar bears in various ways. They are not great swimmers, so they rely on the ice in order to hunt seals for food and also to find their mates. [read more...]
Almost everyone has heard of the Flint water crisis that rocked the nation back in 2016 and has continued to make national headlines since then. However, few know that Wisconsin has its own problems with water quality that it has been grappling with for decades. [read more...]
Did you know that there is a kind of lightning called ball lightning? It does exist but it is really rare. [read more...]
An endangered species has made a great comeback: a bird called the California condor. The California condor was heading towards extinction, but with the help of zoos and a reproduction program in Los Angeles and San Diego, they are now repopulating and living on their own. [read more...]
Alliant Energy plans on reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, making it the largest solar energy generator in Wisconsin to make such a pledge. This has become a growing trend among other utility groups, with the goal to eliminate all coal-powered generators in the near future. [read more...]
On a warm Sunday this summer, my family and I went camping for three nights in Pattison State Park in Superior, Wisconsin to celebrate my birthday. This state park has the highest waterfall in Wisconsin, Big Manitou Falls, which is 165 feet tall. The park sits on 1,476 acres of land. [read more...]
In February, researchers at three institutions developed a breakthrough process to potentially conserve the cheetah population worldwide. The institutions involved in making this accomplishment possible were the Columbus Zoo in Ohio, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), and the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Texas. [read more...]
Many of us enjoy the local lakes here in Madison. But what people might not know is that our lakes are being invaded. Zebra mussels are D-shaped mussels that can grow up to two inches in length. They usually have yellow and brown shells with stripes. This invasive species was first discovered in the Madison lakes in 2015 by a class of University of Wisconsin students, although evidence suggests the mussels were present in Lake Mendota as early as 2012. Since that time, zebra mussels have spread to other area lakes including Monona, Wingra, and Waubesa. [read more...]
Dane County is testing a new technology designed to clean out algae blooms local lakes. Strange as it might sound, this new technology actually uses a vacuum to remove hazardous blue-green algae blooms located near Dane County’s beaches. [read more...]
In August of 2018, the chain of lakes connected by the Yahara River had remained above target summer maximum levels—the appropriate lake levels set by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources—for four months, despite efforts to eliminate blockages in the system. Heavy rainfall on August 21 threatened to push the lakes over the edge. The city of Madison closed major thoroughfares as the water rushed in, damaging homes, businesses, and public infrastructure. First responders worked all night, evacuating residents from flooded homes and rescuing stranded motorists. [read more...]
Believe it or not, some plants are actually in love with metal. These plants are referred to as hyper-accumulating plants because they absorb toxic but valuable metals from the soil and are able to collect them in their sap. Their roots are basically a magnet that attracts and craves metals, usually nickel. If the stems of these plants are cut open, they produce a neon blue-green sap that actually contains one-quarter nickel. They absorb nickel at an extraordinarily high level. [read more...]
Does the murder hornet abide by its name? Is it deadly? This new insect entered the United States in December of 2019. It is also known by its native name, the Asian giant hornet. These hornets are the largest in the world. However, they are not as deadly as their name may imply. [read more...]
Droughts are estimated to become more common and extreme in many regions since global temperatures continue to rise. A recent study with NASA shows that land ecosystems have been slowly taking longer to recover from droughts in the 20th century, leading to tree death and increased greenhouse gas emissions. [read more...]
With climate changing causing major shifts in weather behavior and ecosystem conditions, a focus in urban cities concerns the development of “green infrastructure” to tackle urban flooding and runoff into streams and lakes. [read more...]
Discussions about renewable energy are always critical topics here in Dane County. These issues are especially relevant in today as climate change and other global issues have sparked the need for more sustainable practices and alternative ways to produce energy. [read more...]
OR-54, a beloved and well-known gray wolf, died recently in California, having played an important role in enhancing the grey wolf population. Only recently has the federal government passed a law making the gray wolf endangered in California and Oregon, an effort meant to protect the species. [read more...]
PFAS, hazardous chemicals found in Madison water wells and bodies of water, are in the news again. New revelations from a group called Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) show that Dane County and the Madison Water Utility failed to respond appropriately to open records requests filed in 2019. [read more...]
Recreational fishing brings at least two-billion dollars to the Wisconsin economy each year. Much of this economic activity is due to the popularity of the walleye. This fish has a long history with Wisconsin and its people. [read more...]
The city of Stoughton is thinking about removing their dam on the Yahara River for a redesign project of the riverfront. The goal is to make it cleaner, safer, more attractive, and may also include a whitewater paddling feature. [read more...]
By 2050, experts believe that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. Adidas is working to reduce the amount of plastic before it reaches the ocean. Adidas plans to replace all virgin polyester with recycled polyester. [read more...]
Robins are warm-blooded creatures known for migrating south during the winter to make it easier to locate a source of food. But you might still wake up one winter morning and hear the sweet song of the robin outside your window. Wonder why? It’s because not all robins migrate during the winter. [read more...]
The sound of birds singing in the morning and the sight of migrating birds in the fall are familiar occurrences to us. However, according to several recent studies, bird populations in our country seem to be decreasing. [read more...]
El Popocatépetl (El Popo) is a stratovolcano (a volcano made up of layers of lava and ash) located in Southwest of Puebla and Central Mexico, about 43 miles South of Mexico city. The volcano is located in the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, and is part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. [read more...]
Wisconsin has a good history of clean water. Now, science experiments with clean water and the ability to validate policies are drawing the attention of parents, teachers, and students across the state. Kevin Anderson, president of the Council of State Science Supervisors, and Travis Tangen, WARF education and outreach manager and also project creator of the Wisconsin Science Festival, created a project where young people could help protect water. The project and students, experiment, were presented at the Wisconsin Annual Science Festival that was held in October. [read more...]
Today habitat loss and degradation is the number one cause of species extinction and loss of biodiversity across the planet. In particular, habitat fragmentation – the separation of habitat landscapes into isolated sections due to natural or human causes – has dramatically impacted the composition of environments and species survival rates. Despite this, a UW study has recently shown that habitat and species recovery is possible through the process of connecting habitat fragments. [read more...]
One man’s trash will be converted into another man’s fuel in a recently completed $29 million landfill biogas facility at the Dane County Landfill. The County works with a local contractor, BioFerm Energy Systems. [read more...]
New F-35 jets and industrial chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are making headlines in Madison, and in Japan. High levels of carcinogenic chemicals known as PFAS were found in the bloodto of Okinawa residents and in the rivers around the island’s two F-35-hosting U.S. air bases, according to a new study. [read more...]
From, popcorn to seafood, and pizza to water, beware of the chemicals known as PFAS. This group of over 4,000 chemicals is suspected of causing health problems. [read more...]
An international research team led by the University of Groningen has used the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) radio to study the development of lightning flashes and why they often strike twice. [read more...]
Access to renewable energy and fuel is a growing necessity in today’s world as concerns about global climate change rise. In an attempt to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions, Dane County plans to use a new process to convert gas from decaying/decomposing trash into fuel for vehicles. [read more...]
Permafrost that has been untouched for thousands of years is being melted due to climate change. This could revive ancient viruses and bacteria that were buried deep in the permanently frozen subsoil. The latest discovery of an ancient virus was when French and Russian scientists investigated a 30,000 year old piece of Siberian permafrost. [read more...]
The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department has done many projects that have helped reduce the number of invasive species. Staff work to prevent the invasive species from reproducing and keep their populations manageable. Their main goal is to keep invasive species in check, “in order to keep the integrity of the prairie intact”. When non-native plants/animals are brought to a new area, they can quickly take over and change the ecosystem. When this happens they are considered invasive species. [read more...]
Canadian pipeline company Enbridge will move forward with operating an oil pumping station in Waterloo, Wisconsin—without special insurance—after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of the company in a 4-1 decision, with two justices abstaining. [read more...]
Death Valley is located between California and Nevada and is known to be the hottest, driest place in the world. Including its name, Death Valley is very unique compared to other national parks. One of the oddest features of this park are the sailing stones. [read more...]
Eight Dane County beaches are plagued with algae blooms. Madison was forced to close its beaches for an extended period of time because of unsatisfactory health inspections. County Executive Joe Parisi and other civic leaders alike finally found an effective way of combating the algae blooms and nutrients. [read more...]
On August 20th, 2018, Madison experienced its most dramatic flooding to date as a result of a rainfall in excess of 14 inches. This not only surpassed Wisconsin’s previous one-day storm record in 1946 of 11.7 inches, but it also exceeded the National Weather Service’s “1,000-year 24-hour rainfall” estimate of 9.9 inches.  [read more...]
The Midwest, especially the state of Wisconsin, is covered with thousands of ancient effigy mounds. From ground level, these mounds usually just look like small hills, but they were actually created by Native Americans hundreds of years ago. Some of these mounds are over 1,500 years old and can be over 100 meters in diameter. These mounds are usually made in the shape of an animal or human. It is believed that they were often built at the base of hills in order for the entire mound to be seen during construction. [read more...]
Lead has been found in the water of homes in Columbus, Wisconsin. Since many residents may not know if their water is contaminated, it could be risky to consume. [read more...]
With climate change posing a threat to human existence, many governments, both international and local, have pursued steps towards sustainable and renewable ways of living. Countless places across the United States have taken action to advocate for environmental practices that reduce the impacts of climate change. [read more...]
Enbridge Inc., a Canadian energy transportation company, is facing a federal lawsuit from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. Line 5, a 66-year old pipeline carrying 23 million gallons of oil daily, runs 12 miles through the nation’s Wisconsin reservation. This pipeline is likely to rupture, causing a massive oil spill in the Bad River ecosystem. [read more...]
Currently, 31% of our planet is covered by forest, but over the years, deforestation has been one of the biggest problems worldwide. It has caused the loss of important wildlife, habitats and, of course, trees. [read more...]
Dozens of bus-sized basking sharks were found on the Southern California Coast in late March 2019. [read more...]
The habitats of pandas are decreasing due to China’s increasing population density. As China continues to grow, the places where pandas are able to live shrink, while food also becomes increasingly scarce. Researchers say that in the next 80 years, around 35 percent of bamboo will be eliminated due to climate change. [read more...]
A tornado is a type of storm that has the shape of an upside-down cone. It is made up of clouds and air that rotates from the center of the storm in the sky down to the ground. [read more...]
For many years, grizzly bears were regularly sighted in Yellowstone National Park. But when President Trump removed Yellowstone's grizzly bears from the federal list of threatened species in 2017, the states of Idaho and Wyoming announced that it was legal to hunt them outside of the national park. [read more...]
After 25 years, Operation Migration has come to an end. The nonprofit organization Operation Migration’s purpose was to restore the number of whooping cranes migrating to the southern United States from the eastern United States. Started in 2001, the organization receives whooping crane chicks hatched at captive breeding sites throughout North America. Today, more than 100 of these cranes migrate between Wisconsin and southeastern states. [read more...]
Did you know that the Louisiana lobster is illegal to possess or transport in Wisconsin? [read more...]
The destruction and warming of this beautiful planet can be attributed to humans. The melting of ice caps and the elevation of storms is all largely due to our greed and selfishness. Businesses and politicians value money over taking action towards the progressive slaughter of the Earth. The changes caused by pollution are continuing to gradually impact our everyday activities. So is the profit gained from the coal, oil, and beef industry worth the future of humanity? [read more...]
Scientists at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are searching for snakes that are very ill. These sick snakes have an illness called snake fungal disease. DNR scientists are looking everywhere for the sick snakes, and are even turning over rocks and logs. [read more...]
Not many people know about constellations even though they are all around us. Constellations are conspicuous groupings of stars that look like objects and figures in the sky. Astronomers use constellations to assist them in locating artificial satellites and finding specific stars. [read more...]
Aldo Leopold was a naturalist, believing that people should understand the importance of the environment. He devoted his life to deeply understand the natural world. [read more...]
Have you ever heard of the American marten? Or, as it is also known, the American pine marten? [read more...]
The emerald ash borer is a non-native invasive beetle from East Asia. It is infamously known for invading the precious ash trees in North America, particularly in Michigan and Wisconsin. It destroys the trees by disrupting the flow of nutrients below the bark. [read more...]
In America, “the loneliest road” is located in Nevada on U.S. Route 50. It’s the opposite of Las Vegas, with no big casinos or bright lights. Route 50 is a long road and a quiet place. [read more...]
Do you know what is happening to our waterbodies? Oftentimes unintentionally, boaters are starting to contaminate our waters with animals and plants that belong to foreign waters. As a boat travels, many small species stick to the bottom of the boat and to other boating equipment, bringing them to local waters. This is causing damage. [read more...]
Have you ever wondered if plants can die from radiations and nuclear disasters? [read more...]
The amount of plastic pollution in our oceans has grown rapidly over the last 40 years. At this rate, plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the oceans by the year 2050. [read more...]
Climate change is a very pressing issue in our world today. It happens when the climate changes abnormally due to too many fossil fuels being burned at once, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide gases into the atmosphere. Due to climate change, the earth is slowing burning, causing problems like frequent powerful storms, animals dying off, and abnormal weather. To help stop climate change, the City of Madison has created a program to bring solar energy to communities in need. Solar energy converts energy from the sun into electricity. [read more...]
The world’s insect numbers are shrinking and threatening nature. This is causing a catastrophic change in nature’s ecosystems. The numbers are dropping so fast that it is becoming a global crisis. [read more...]
Would you say hurricanes are stronger than tropical cyclones? The answer is yes, the difference between them, is the destructive power and wind speed the hurricanes release. [read more...]
While reading Plant Cycle, I came across many new words. For example, Germination, Sprout, Pollen, Reproduction, and Ovules. [read more...]
Wisconsin, as a state, has made great progress towards phosphorus reduction. However, despite the efforts of farmers, government officials, and community members alike, there has been little to show for it. The lakes are still muddy, phosphorus levels remain high, and toxic blue-green algae continues to flourish. County officials believe this is because there is a previously ignored source of phosphorus: legacy sediments. [read more...]
Imagine a future where storms, droughts, and floods are much more destructive and much more common than they are today. In this foreseeable future, the world's ecosystems have altered completely with polar bears and many other animals extinct and others migrating across the globe. Diseases exist in areas they had never been before. This future could become a reality if humans do not slow down the current global warming problem. [read more...]
Wisconsin is known nation-wide as the dairy state, producing daily quality dairy products such as milk and cheese. However, the practices and conditions in dairy and swine operations have recently sparked controversy as they have resulted in major effects on the water quality in the state. [read more...]
PFAS, chemicals commonly found in non-stick cookware, water-resistant clothing, and firefighting foams among other things, have been found in 10 out of 19 Madison city wells tested. Though it is not a health threat at the levels detected, Madison Water Utility is making an effort to let people know what is in their water. [read more...]
Climate change is a continuing issue that impacts everybody. Scientists have looked at ways in which we can slow the process of climate change. One of these options includes energy powered by solar panels. [read more...]
If you have experienced or heard of a 100-year flood, you might think that there won’t be a flood like this in another 99 years, but you are wrong. [read more...]
Studies from the United Nations showed that 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded. The report came after a super El Niño elevated temperatures all around the world. However, this doesn’t solely apply to warmer weather. Recently, the winter of 2018-2019 had temperatures in the Midwest dropping as low as -55° Fahrenheit. These extreme weather conditions are effects of global warming and if not addressed, will have irreversible changes on the planet. [read more...]
The lesser long-nosed bat is no longer endangered thanks to conservation made possible by scientists and volunteers. It is the first U.S. bat to escape endangerment. The bats' recovery is thanks to cooperation between the United States and Mexico. [read more...]
A year after China enacted the National Sword Policy, banning the imports of nearly all kinds of plastic, many nations around the world are still scrambling to figure out how to recycle without shipping everything overseas. China’s National Sword Policy has left large countries, such as the United States and those in the European Union, with the problem of figuring out where to place their recycled goods. Many countries have resorted to either burning the plastic or dumping it in landfills and bodies of water, which pollutes the air, land, and sea. [read more...]
Recent developments have uncovered huge termite mounds completely covering a vast area in northeastern Brazil, previously covered by thick forests. These masses of earth can be up to three meters tall, and up to ten meters wide. They cover an area roughly the size of England. The combined mass of all the mounds can be seen from low earth orbit, though it is difficult to see individual mounds from that height. [read more...]
California has experienced many wildfires in the past, but few, if any, have been as deadly as the recent Camp Fire. The future regarding this disastrous event is uncertain. The devastating wildfire burned for over two weeks, killed more than 85 people, and burdened thousands of lives. It will be remembered for many years to come. [read more...]
Daily hygienic products such as deodorant, perfume, and soaps turn out to be some of the world’s biggest pollutants. Ironically, these products that enhance good smells contaminate the atmosphere at rates and levels similar to those of cars and other motor vehicles. [read more...]
The water in Wisconsin has become a rising concern over the past decade. Governor Tony Evers recently announced that 2019 will be “the year of clean drinking water.” Even though the nitrate-infested wells and lead pipes will take decades to repair, Evers and his team are extremely passionate to tackle this issue. [read more...]
The consumption and production of plastic goods have caused damage and destruction in many ways to the environment. Specifically, marine ecosystems and animals in these habitats suffer from the tons of plastic waste discarded into the oceans each year. [read more...]
Porcelain berry, a vine native to East Asia, is moving into two neighborhoods on the West Side of Madison. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is looking to halt the invasive species before it spreads to other parts of the city. [read more...]
In the lower Rio Grande River Valley, there is great biodiversity that will be negatively affected due to the construction of the border wall. [read more...]
Hurricanes threaten millions of people all over the globe. From formation to the naming process, Simpson Street Free Press is here to answer all your questions about hurricanes. [read more...]
Zimbabwean high school student, Macdonald Chirara recently developed a device to power his community with waste. [read more...]
“If we don’t act now, it will be too late.” Threats like this have been circling the news and internet for years now concerning the imminent danger climate change poses to our planet. On October 8th, CNN declared that the “planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change.” Each new ultimatum becomes more and more drastic--the action needed for change a steadily more ambitious task. [read more...]
Did you know that the intense heat from fires can produce fire clouds? [read more...]
Victoria Falls, Boyomo Falls, Niagara Falls, and Iguazú Falls are some of the world’s greatest waterfalls. But, many people may not realize that some of the world’s largest waterfalls exist underwater, hidden from the public’s eye. [read more...]
According to, a boulder is “a detached and rounded or worn rock, especially a large one.” Back in the early 1600s, fur traders who were crossing Lake Superior heard stories of a large rock that was lying on the edge of the Ontonagon River. It was said that the boulder weighed five tons, was as big as a house, and was made of solid copper. [read more...]
The Dane County UW-Extension (UWEX) Master Gardener Volunteer program educates people in Dane County on how to grow and take care of plants and other natural resources. People who volunteer in the program use the information they learn to enable them to answer residents’ questions about gardening through face-to-face contacts, phone calls or emails. Experts within the Master Gardener Volunteer program who can answer more specific questions are also available.   [read more...]
Native bee populations are declining. They are being threatened by urbanization and new farming techniques which can both poison the bees and harm their food source. Yet, there are ways that communities and individuals can help the bees. [read more...]
Animals normally change colors seasonally, but now due to drastic temperature changes, animal camouflage is not following its traditional pattern. [read more...]
Throughout recent years, cougar sightings in Wisconsin have occurred in over 17 different locations, suggesting that the feline is returning to Wisconsin’s landscape after more than a century gone. [read more...]
A volcano is an opening in the surface of the Earth. Gas and hot smoke, along with magma and ash, can come out of its opening. [read more...]
On October 10, 2018, a public information meeting will be held by the Dane County Parks staff concerning the vegetation management of one of our many County Parks, Prairie Moraine County Park. The meeting will be open to the public and interested residents are encouraged to attend. [read more...]
As summer comes to an end and days of water fun are over, it’s easy to forget about our lakes. A leaf management study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) suggests that fall is a crucial time of the year to take action. [read more...]
When rainwater runs off the land and enters a storm drain, it often empties into a nearby body of water and remains untreated. This poses a problem because increased urbanization in Dane County is creating more runoff. Many surfaces in urban areas are either impervious or absorb very little water, like roads and traditional lawns. Before heavy development, natural land absorbed 80-100% of rainwater. [read more...]
Native plants are an important part of our ecosystem due to their many benefits, but their numbers are quickly dwindling. A new program by the Land and Water Resources Department aims to encourage more native gardens around Dane County. The program, called Plant Dane, is growing and offering free native plants to schools and community centers. Native plant gardens can be quite costly due to the high price of native plants. By offering free plants from the county, schools and communities that previously didn't have the money to create a garden now can. [read more...]
Fruits, berries, nuts, and mushrooms abound in Dane County parks. Fragrant apples flourish in public orchards, luscious blackberries grow alongside hiking trails, delectable morel mushrooms thrive at the base of tucked-away trees, and so much more. The best part is, these tasty treasures are free and available to the public. [read more...]
Hurricane Mathew tore through the Caribbean as a category four storm in October, 2016. But, it plummeted to a category one storm as it made its way to the eastern coast of the United States. This is a perfect example of something James Kossin, an atmospheric scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, calls “an incredibly lucky phenomenon.” [read more...]
European settlers such as Frank Hudson gave the Yahara Lakes beautiful Native American names. Lake Monona, Lake Mendota, Lake Kegonsa among other lakes are well-known to Madison residents; but many do not know why the settlers chose such a specific style of names. [read more...]
Although the name of Death Valley makes the place sound like it has to do with death, it is just in relation to the scorching heat. Death Valley is located in California near the Pacific Ocean. It is very dry and hot, and the temperature can be anywhere from 120° F or higher on a normal day. [read more...]
In past decades, the variety of both native and non-native species in Lake Michigan has changed and complicated its waters. Recently, the presence of mussels has created clearer lake water. Though seeming advantageous, it has harmed the Great Lakes environment and the people using it. [read more...]
Turkeys were hunted and pushed out of existence by humans in Wisconsin in the late 1800s. However, in 1976 they were reintroduced and are now thriving. [read more...]
California es un lugar muy deseable para vivir, pero también es uno de los mas difíciles para obtener agua. California está en problemas por esto, ya que es un recurso que todos necesitamos para vivir, pero su escasez ha provocado que tenga un precio muy elevado. [read more...]
What are snakeheads? A snakehead is an invasive fish with a cylindrical shape and sharp teeth. An invasive species is a non-native organism that can harm an ecosystem. Snakeheads are separated into two genera: parachanna and channa. They are native to various parts of Africa and Asia; however, in 2002, the northern snakehead was caught in a Maryland pond. This immediately gained national attention and indicated that snakeheads were reproducing around the Maryland-Virginia area as well as in other states such as Wisconsin, Maine, Florida, as well as along the east and west coasts. [read more...]
Wetlands are a major factor in Wisconsin's ecology; however, we are treating our environment so badly that we are causing wetland loss at alarming rates. It has taken the state thousands of years to form approximately ten million acres of wetlands, but it has taken less than 200 years for humans to ruin these vital landforms. [read more...]
American Martens are one of Wisconsin's rarest endangered species. They are small in size and look very similar to fellow members of the weasel family. In fact, they often get confused with Fishers and Stone Martens who also live in Wisconsin. American Martens are slowly disappearing; this is a problem on the rise that needs to be addressed. [read more...]
A recent study confirms the speculations that the snows of Kilimanjaro located in Tanzania, Africa, may be gone by 2022. Lonnie Thompson, a glaciologist at Ohio State University in Columbus, says that the ice on Kilimanjaro is disappearing at a concerning rate. [read more...]
The Deepwater Horizon spill is known as the worst oil spill in U.S. history. To fully understand this event, it is important to know the science behind it. [read more...]
Crazy worms are taking over our forest floors, and we’ve got to do something about them. [read more...]
According to a recent press release, Clean Wisconsin, a nonprofit organization that advocates for clean air and water, and the Wisconsin Farm Bureau released a statement addressing the recent policy updates to Natural Resources 151 (chapter 151 in the Wisconsin State Legislature). These updates are aimed at protecting the drinking water in Northeast Wisconsin and were implemented by the Department of Natural Resources. [read more...]
Two chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perflurooctane sulfonate (PFOS), have been found in groundwater near Marinette, Wisconsin. Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources is currently working on setting new parameters for acceptable levels of these chemicals in drinking water. PFOA and PFOS have been used since the 1950’s to make non-stick cookware, carpet cleaner, and stain repellant. [read more...]
The biggest survey yet of western lowland gorilla and chimpanzee populations brings good and bad news. There are more of the animals than previously thought, but their numbers are dropping rapidly due to a variety of factors. Will these creatures, which are so similar to us, be here in the generations to come? [read more...]
A recent emerald ash borer outbreak has affected thousands of trees across Wisconsin. Many of the infected Ash trees need to be cut down. Madison Community Foundation recently helped launch a project to bring life back into the dead trees. [read more...]
Greenhouse gas (GHG) levels are higher now than in the last 650,000 years. This causes the Earth to heat up, changing temperatures and lifestyles for the humans that inhabit Earth. [read more...]
Everyone has heard terrifying stories of tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Have people ever paid attention to what scary and destructive things tornadoes can do? There have been many unforgettable moments brought by the worst tornadoes in the American Midwest. [read more...]
The Milwaukee Health Department has faced scorn in the past about their cursory disregard of the city’s lead poisoning problem. It is estimated that 70,000 homes in Milwaukee currently have lead service lines. That number represents about 46% of all residences. [read more...]
Plum and Pilot Islands, two small islands off the Door County coast had been apparently fading into the background of local people's daily lives for decades. However, in 2007 with the creation of Friends of Plum and Pilot Islands, a non-profit formed by local citizens, the fortunes of the islands began to change. [read more...]
The future is getting brighter for wind and solar energy in the Midwest. Two Madison-based power companies, Alliant Energy Corporation and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE), have recently invested in clean energy sources that will affect thousands of customers across the Midwest. [read more...]
Set to begin summer of 2018, Madison Area Technical College will be adding a new feature to their campus. The largest rooftop solar system in Wisconsin will be implemented on top of the main Truax Campus building. Through a cooperation between Madison Gas and Electric, the program will bring alternative energy sources and new education opportunities to the Madison community. [read more...]
Human activities such as farming, fishing, and forestry have existed for thousands of years. Although these activities have benefitted the growing population and economy greatly, practices within these areas have damaged the Earth’s environment significantly and continue to have a negative impact today. [read more...]
The McCarthy Youth & Conservation County Park is a spacious park in Cottage Grove that offers many activities for families and friends to enjoy. The park’s 285 acres of land features equestrian trails, hiking trails, camping sites, sledding hills, snowshoe trails, cross-country ski trails, picnic areas, and archery areas. [read more...]
Recently scientists determined that whales many centuries ago were only about 15 feet long. Whales have evolved as one of the largest creatures on the planet. [read more...]
The Menominee people are some of Wisconsin’s oldest residents and have practiced sustained-yield forestry on their lands for hundreds of years. However, due to laws and treaties set by the United States, the Menominee have had to fight to regain control of their forests. [read more...]
Dane County recently acquired interest in 130 acres of land along the Yahara River near the Cherokee Marsh, north of Madison, for $1.5 million. Improving lake water quality and offering new recreational opportunities, this expansion of the Cherokee Marsh Natural Area Resource could benefit the Madison community. [read more...]
Tensions are rising as lawmakers, environmentalists, local residents and sponsoring companies continue to debate plans for the new Cardinal-Hickory-Creek transmission line. Although project advocates boast the proposed project will provide low-cost and renewable energy, the line poses potential health risks for residents of southern Wisconsin and threatens the surrounding environment. [read more...]
Coastal sand crumbles at the human touch but is powerful enough to form barrier islands. Have you ever wondered how this is possible? [read more...]
Victoria Falls is the largest waterfall in the world. It is also known as Mosi-oa-tunya, meaning “smoke that thunders.” [read more...]
Can you think of a bird that makes you stop in your tracks just to admire it? The bald eagle is that bird, and our nation's symbol. [read more...]
The Rosemary Garfoot Public Library is a central gathering place and a source of information for the Cross Plains community. [read more...]
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...]
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 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...]