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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...]