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energy/environment

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...]