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Learn About Wisconsin's Only Endangered Mammal

by Siwoo Park, age 12

Pine martens are recovering in Wisconsin after nearing extinction because of over-trapping and habitat loss. These furry, agile weasels are seeing a population upturn as environmental officials take steps to secure the pine forests they call home.

Pine martens, also known as American martens, are nocturnal weasels that are excellent climbers. Agile, fast, and small, females are 18-22 inches and stand almost six inches high, about three-fourths the size of the male. Females weigh about two pounds, and males can weigh up to three pounds.

Pine martens have soft, thick, and dense fur, perfect for the cold Wisconsin winters. They are yellow to reddish-brown and have bushy tails that extend the length of one-third of their bodies. [Read More]

Should Farmers Switch to Solar?

by Camila Cruz, age 16

Solar panels are going to require millions of acres of land to be a viable solution against climate change. In particular, these acres are owned by farmers. Scientists are on a mission to make it work for both parties by putting solar panels in the same location as crops.

Crop land is an ideal place for different types of solar development. It’s large, flat land that recieves plentiful amounts of sunlight and contains good drainage. Crops on the land are not a problem because it’s easy to build the solar panels above the crops.

The Department of Energy report in 2021 said that by 2050, a maximum of 0.5% of land in the United States would be required for solar growth. This would help us get closer to climate change goals. 0.5% doesn’t seem like much, but when translated into surface area, this would be around 9.5 million acres. [Read More]

Understanding the Impacts of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

by Will De Four, age 14

Earth is changing as the icecaps are shrinking, forests are diminishing, and extinction rates are over 100 times greater than in the past millennia. Almost all of these changes are being caused by human activity, and the most destructive is the production of greenhouse gases.

The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air today is almost twice as much as there was 1,000 years ago. This shift has not been gradual either, as the largest spike of CO2 has occurred over only the past 150 years. But what has caused this rapid increase, and how can it be stopped? [Read More]

Toxic TCE Chemical Found in Two Milwaukee Residential Buildings

by Alan Cruz, age 19

Trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic carcinogen, recently gained attention in Milwaukee, when 250 Milwaukee residents first heard about this hazardous chemical from health officials knocking on their doors. They were evacuated from two apartment complexes in the area due to elevated levels of toxins remaining from the sites’ industrial history. Surprisingly, none of the tenants, despite experiencing short-term symptoms, were familiar with this harmful chemical.

This colorless liquid is found in certain factories for metal cleaning and can also be found in paint removers, adhesives, carpet cleaners, dry cleaning, and shoe polishes. Short-term exposure to TCE can result in dizziness, headaches, nausea, sleepiness, and confusion. Higher toxicity levels corresponding to prolonged exposure are associated with various health issues, including cancers, liver damage, and fetal defects, with effects that can manifest decades after exposure.

In Milwaukee County alone, there are 832 sites with a history of TCE pollution, and 261 of these sites are undergoing cleanup efforts. The remaining locations have been shuttered, suggesting that cleanup activities are complete, however, TCE may still be present. [Read More]

Wisconsin Rejects $1 Billion Dupont Settlement, Seeks Higher Compensation Over PFAS Contamination

By Will DeFour, age 13

The average person consumes approximately half a gallon of water daily, but this water isn't pure, as filtration systems sometimes allow pollutants to pass through. One particularly infamous group of pollutants, known as "forever chemicals," poses significant threats to both the environment and human health.

These persistent pollutants are called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), an issue Simpson Street Free Press has been diligently covering for the past several years. They earned the name "forever chemicals" due to their indestructible resistance to biodegradation. PFAS are byproducts created during the manufacture of various products, including sticky notes, nonstick pans, packaging materials, carpets, and firefighting foam. These chemicals find their way into water sources such as the Mississippi River and local areas like Starkweather Creek, here in Madison. Even at extremely low concentrations, as low as 0.004 parts per trillion, PFAS can cause severe health problems, including low birth weight, kidney failure, and cancer.

Addressing these critical issues requires a reduction in PFAS contamination. Although the US Environmental Protection Agency and State Department of Natural Resources have attempted to establish regulations for these chemicals across the Midwest, their efforts have proven insufficient to halt the contamination. Consequently, over 20 states have denounced a proposed $10.5 billion settlement from a major PFAS producer, 3M. [Read More]

Wisconsin Among the States Rejecting $10.5 Billion PFAS Settlement with 3M Company

by Alan Cruz, age 19

Attorneys General from 22 states, including Wisconsin, are denouncing a proposed lawsuit settlement that they argue would absolve manufacturing giant 3M from responsibility for the widespread contamination of water supplies with hazardous 'forever chemicals.'

The landmark $10.5 billion agreement aims to fund chemical testing and the installation of water filtration systems over three years. However, 3M doesn’t admit liability. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS, have been found in aqueous firefighting foam and are by-products of numerous manufacturing processes. These persistent chemicals have been linked to various health issues, including cancer and reduced birth rates.

The settlement reached in June was initially perceived as a victory for public well-being. However, under an indemnification clause, the agreement could shift blame to water utilities, and require them to pay some of the $10.5 billion. [Read More]

U.S. Military's PFAS Pollution Threatens Communities Nationwide

by Camila Cruz, age 16

It is hard to imagine that the U.S. military, whose number one goal is to protect, is also one of the biggest contributors to the spread of chemicals that cause cancer, kidney disease, and many other serious health problems.

The military is one of the largest PFAS polluters in the world. PFAS are a group of 15,000 compounds that are used to make stain-, grease- and water-resistant products, making them extremely harmful to humans and animals. PFAS are also called “forever chemicals” because they are nearly indestructible.

PFAS in water is connected to birth defects, high cholesterol, decreased immunity, and much more. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared that less than one part per trillion (ppt) is safe to consume in drinking water. However, the levels of PFAS found around military bases have been much higher. [Read More]

Study Reveals PFAS Contamination in Wisconsin Bald Eagles

by Samuel Garduño, age 16

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemical compounds, more commonly known as PFAS or forever chemicals, are odorless and tasteless compounds known to be produced in the US since the 1940s. What many people don’t realize, however, is that they are significantly more common than speculated. They are found in our air and water; stain-resistant materials, clothing, carpets, nonstick cookware, food packaging, firefighting foam; and so many other everyday essentials. Although PFAS are extremely common, scientists are still learning all of their effects.

Wildlife isn’t exempt from the threat of PFAS. Although testing has prioritized bald eagles, Wisconsin has also examined other wildlife, including fish, deer, waterfowl, and small mammals. Bald eagles are a prime candidate, as they are an apex predator of the food chain and a prized, almost sacred, animal amongst the American public. Since bald eagles are at the top of the food chain, their blood will show a presence of PFAS, metals, pesticides, and contaminants that amass through indirect and direct exposure. What happens in the environment parallels what affects humans.

Wisconsin’s private and public water systems have been tainted with traces of PFAS, although scientists don’t know the source. Biologists at the Genoa National Fish Hatchery started researching the effects of PFAS on mussels in the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes. The hatchery has been partnering with an outside lab that already has experience with chemical testing, but lab testing PFAS is time-consuming. Eight to ten samples have been shipped a month, but mussels take ten months to grow and three years to show conclusions. Megan Bradley, a biologist at the hatchery, hopes the lab testing will aid in establishing water standards as well as identifying PFAS contamination sources. For instance, the Wisconsin River was the most contaminated body of water identified by the eagle testing, but the source remains unknown. [Read More]

Unveiling the Dangers of Light Pollution

by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 16

Human activity has been a continuous danger to the environment and all living things. Right now, mounting research has put the spotlight on light pollution – the unrestrained and unnecessary use of artificial light. This type of pollution affects more than 80% of the world's population, with Singapore taking the lead.

Scientists have reported four main types of light pollution: sky glow, clutter, light trespass, and glare. Sky glow is the excessive brightness of the urban night sky caused by streetlamps, car lights, and factories. Living with high levels of this type of pollution makes it difficult to see stars at night, as it redirects their light and can obstruct the views of stars for astronomers and observers. Clutter is the unnatural grouping of lights, which are normally bright billboards and flashy tourist attractions. Since moonlight leads animals to their migration patterns, this often confuses animals and causes them to stray from their normal patterns. Light trespassing is light that reaches into an undesired space; such as light from a streetlamp seeping into a bedroom window. Lastly, glare is light that can cause discomfort and annoyance while driving, walking, or doing other daily tasks.

Beyond everyday tasks, light pollution is detrimental to human health and behavior. Light trespass, in particular, can disturb sleep and melatonin production, which requires surroundings to be fully dark to work properly. If not, many health issues develop, including fatigue, anxiety, stress, and sleep deprivation. Blue light, found in cell phones, computers, and even in popular LED light bulbs, also exposes people to the same damaging threats. Furthermore, studies reveal lower melatonin production is linked to cancer. As a result of this study, the American Medical Association advocates to control light pollution and discover the additional risks of nocturnal light. [Read More]

State DNR to Help Dispose of Firefighting PFAS Foam

by Makya Rodriguez, age 18

Wisconsin is trying to eliminate foams containing PFAS used by firefighters, a move that would benefit the environment by removing hazardous chemicals. PFAS, also known as poly-fluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals. They are used on clothing, carpets, non-stick pans, cookware, and in firefighting foam. It’s a “forever chemical.”It’s family contains 5,000 compounds which are known to last forever in the environment and human bodies.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to help firefighters clean PFAS chemicals free of charge. The DNR’s foam collection program is doing this with a state fund of $1 million. Of 72 Wisconsin counties, 60 want to cooperate on eliminating PFAS foam through the program. 25,000 gallons of the foam will be eliminated through North Shore Environmental construction.

Once the foam gets removed from certain locations, the program stated that it will send the waste to a hazardous landfill in Alabama. Lining the waterways of the landfill will ensure that PFAS won’t escape into the environment. Once in Alabama, it is said that the PFAS will be stored in cement, where it is better off than in local lakes, rivers, sewers, and drinking water. [Read More]

Manufacturing Giant Reaches Landmark $10.3 Billion Settlement to Address PFAS Contaminated Water

by Alan Cruz, age 19

Manufacturing giant 3M, known for producing household staples like Scotch Tape, Command Strips, and Post-it notes, has settled with numerous cities and towns across the nation for $10.3 billion. This agreement aims to tackle the persistent problem of water supply contamination caused by the presence of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) also referred to as "forever chemicals," which have been identified as posing threats to human health.

Under the agreement, 3M will pay the landmark sum over 13 years to support communities.

The long-anticipated settlement could reach a staggering $12.5 billion. The settlement follows lawsuits alleging that 3M knew about the health risks of these chemicals in its consumer products. However, 3M does not admit any liability. According to Scott Summy, one of the leading plaintiffs' attorneys, the funds will be used for testing and cleaning up water supplies. Before this, chemical companies Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva reached a separate $1.19 billion settlement over PFAS pollution. Together, these settlements mark significant steps in addressing the PFAS issue and protecting water sources. [Read More]

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]

Lead Poisoning Hinders the Recovery of Bald Eagles

by Makya Rodriguez, age 17

The mighty bald eagle is facing some tough times. In recent years, the population of our national bird has decreased by almost 4%, and lead poisoning is usually the reason.

A new nationwide study has found that up to 33% of examined dead bald eagles contained serious levels of lead poisoning. This clinical poisoning is mainly transmitted from an eagle’s prey such as fish or small animals. After consuming such prey, the eagles’ stomach acids break down neurotoxin and release lead into the bird’s bloodstream. The lead then travels to soft tissues around the body and eventually accumulates within the bird’s bones leading to the death of these beautiful animals. [Read More]

Monarch Butterflies are now on the Red List of Threatened Species

by Hanna Eyobed, age 17

Karen Oberhauser, one of the world’s top experts on monarch butterflies, has always pushed for greater awareness of the risks they face. That’s why she thinks it could be a good thing that monarchs were declared endangered in July. “Certainly it’s negative that monarchs have reached this point where they need to be listed. But it’s positive that they have this recognition and that, hopefully, this will bring more people on board to do what we can to preserve monarchs.”

Madison residents can help by planting the only food migratory monarch butterflies can eat as caterpillars: milkweed. Sam Harrington has been very impactful in the Madison community, she is a climate journalist who began making a difference in 2017, when she decided to put her parents’ lawn in Middleton to use by planting a quarter of an acre with plants native to Wisconsin. She planted species like yellow coneflower, royal catchfly, butterfly weed, and purple prairie clover. She eventually planted over 60 species and documented what was planted, what survived, and what animals they attracted. “It feels like an investment in the future, one that I want to live in, one that’s full of pretty flowers and butterflies and I have a good relationship with the land of the place where I’m from.”

Michelle Martin and her work with Monarch butterflies is another example of local change. In July of 2022, as she was inspecting her milkweed plants in her garden, she spotted a monarch egg. She then proceeded to carefully cut the piece of the leaf off, took the egg into her home, and put it on a fresh milkweed leaf in a habitat made specifically for butterflies. During the process of its birth, Martin was consistent in taking care of the caterpillar by adding fresh milkweed. As time went on she added sticks to the enclosure. The caterpillar hung from a chrysalis and after two weeks it hatched into an adult butterfly. After a couple of days, as the butterfly regained its strength, Martin released it. Martin isn’t the only witness to the butterflies she raises, as she is a teacher who shows this process to her class of two-year-olds at Big Oak Child Care Center in Madison. She understands the importance of nature in the lives of developing children and believes that implementing the process of raising monarch butterflies is transformative. It allows her students to be amazed and respectful of the beauty of nature and gives them a sense of urgency to protect it. [Read More]

Learn About the Mississippi, One of the Longest U.S. Rivers

by Dani Garduño, age 12

When people imagine rivers, they typically think of famous ones like the Nile or Amazon Rivers. However, one of the world's largest river systems runs right along Wisconsin: the Mississippi River. It significantly impacts the United States and its population and continues to show its benefits to humanity every day.

Flowing 2,350 miles from Lake Itasca, the Mississippi River is one of the two longest rivers in North America. Some even consider it the third-longest river system in the world. The reported length of the river may increase or decrease depending on changes in the landscape, time of year, and precipitation. The Mississippi River can reach a pretty surprising width of 11 miles. The surface speed average is 1.2 miles per hour, half as fast as an average walking speed. The river's water speed may vary depending on where you are in the United States. For example, the surface speed in New Orleans increases to three miles per hour. Even though the water speed changes in certain places, all the water leads to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mississippi River is used for transportation and to supply water to about 50 cities, serving 10 million people. It provides 92% of the U.S. agricultural exports. 60% of American exported grain goes through the Port of South Louisiana and the Port of New Orleans; around 500 million tons of goods are shipped from the South Port of Louisiana. Other goods transported on the river include petroleum, iron, steel, rubber, wood, and coal. [Read More]

Dane County Plans Solar Project at Former Landfill in Verona

by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 16

Dane County is looking for help developing a solar energy project located near a former landfill in Verona. The site is on land owned by the county.

Dane County plans to install a solar array in the landfill near a site that includes a nursing home, food pantry, and a food service facility.

During the 1990s, natural gas methane from the landfill was used to generate large amounts of electricity. But today, the methane is declining prompting officials to find a better way to repurpose the area. [Read More]

How Dane County Young People Can Protect Pollinator Species

by Siwoo Park, age 13 and Camila Cruz, age 16

Spring and early summer is a good time to think about helping pollinator species. And you can do this right in your own backyard.

The Dane County Land and Water Resources Department is encouraging people to act to support our local pollinators. There are several steps you can take that can help. These steps include planting native plants and providing the types of habitats that pollinators need to survive and thrive.

Student reporters from Simpson Street Free Press have been studying and writing about pollinators for several years. These species are essential to our environment because about 87% of flowering plants on Planet Earth depend on pollinators. [Read More]

Tree Kangaroos Face Extinction as Habitats Disappear

by Siheon Park, age 11

Tree kangaroos are an endangered species that are often unheard of or overlooked. Their role in ecosystems and indigenous cultures and diets are threatened by habitat loss.

There are 12 species, two are found in Australia and the rest are mostly found on the island of New Guinea. Scientists estimate that there are less than 2,500 tree kangaroos in the world.

The Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program partnered with National Geographic Society to protect the tree kangaroos by using critter cams to observe how they act in the wild. Researchers captured kangaroos and placed collars that have small cameras in them. The footage records their behavior and diet. After placing the collars, researchers release them back into their natural habitat. [Read More]

Ultrasound Waves Offer a Solution for Microplastics in Water

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 13

Pollution has become a big problem in today’s economy. Microplastics are a type of pollution that is really small and barely visible yet they are found in our bodies, causing a lot of damage. Microplastics can contain toxic chemicals, viruses, and bacteria.

These plastic bits are an issue for humans and wildlife. These plastics are incredibly hard to see, even smaller than a sesame seed, and no more than five millimeters wide. The bits can be found in water, air, and foods leading to their accumulation in human bodies as resources are utilized. The materials within these bits can contain toxic chemicals. Additionally, both bacteria and viruses can attach themselves to the microplastic. Wildlife can also ingest plastic bits through drinking water from rivers or the ocean.[Read More]

Wisconsin Passes $125 Million Bill to Address PFAS Contamination

by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 17

Dangerous artificial chemicals like PFAS have polluted Wisconsin’s waters and towns for decades. The Wisconsin State Assembly recently passed a $125 million bill to control and test for PFAS contamination in groundwater across the state, yet it could also exempt polluters from liability.

PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are synthetic chemicals in many industry and consumer items, including cookware and water-resistant products. These chemicals are difficult to remove from nature and do not fully decompose. They seep into groundwater and lakes, and ingesting them can lead to a weakened immune system, liver disease, and cancer.

The legislation would offer grants to local governments and private landowners, using $125 million from the state’s budget trust fund to remove PFAS in wells and water treatment plants. Under Wisconsin’s “Spills Law,” anyone who causes or owns a dangerous substance released into the environment must clean it up. However, Democrats say the PFAS bill protects polluters because, in some scenarios, taxpayers would have to clean up the mess. Furthermore, a legislative committee must approve the funding for the legislation before it can help Wisconsinites with contamination. [Read More]

Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula Faces Largest Volcanic Eruption in Decade

by Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 17

Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula has suffered its fourth and largest volcano eruption of the decade. The signs of volcanic activity started on Dec. 18, 2023, in the town of Grindavik, which is best known for its popular geothermal spa, the Blue Lagoon. Following weeks of thousands of earthquakes before the 18th, Grindavik and nearby towns evacuated more than 4,300 people.

A month before the eruption, a 2.5-mile-long fissure, which is a crack formed underneath the Earth, collected a significant amount of magma (molten rock). On Dec. 18, the opening reached the surface and nearly 150 cubic meters of lava flowed out per second for the first few hours. Heavy clouds of smoke and an orange hue covered the night sky in western Iceland. According to the Icelandic Meteorological Office, the intensity of the eruption and earthquakes weakened by the next day.

Volcanic activity is not unheard of in Iceland, since it is home to 32 active volcanoes, many of them subglacial. Most eruptions take place in unpopulated areas and don’t interfere with any humans. Often, these volcanic sites become tourist attractions. Iceland is also situated on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where tectonic plates are frequently moving 2.5 cm apart per year. [Read More]

The Coming Invasion of Wild Pigs

by, Theodore Morrison, age 16

Pork, a delicacy enjoyed by many, is derived from the flesh of pigs. However, some wild pigs prove easier to capture than others. More specifically, a particular crossbreed between a wild Eurasian boar and a domestic swine possesses survival skills, a large body, and extreme fertility, rendering it nearly impossible to eradicate.

These pigs present a significant danger to humans and our food sources. Equipped with strong snouts, they excavate food from the ground. Unfortunately, they are not selective about their diet and are willing to destroy and consume crops, and wildlife, or even pose a threat to humans. Compounding the issue is an estimated population of 6 million of these pigs in the United States, causing concern among state and federal officials. In essence, these pigs pose a severe threat to our agricultural system and must be eradicated.

The United States has not turned a blind eye to these perilous creatures, prompting responses from Montana and Minnesota. Montana has prohibited the raising or transportation of wild pigs while endorsing preventative measures against these specific invasive animals, including surveillance. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has also implemented surveillance to assist in addressing the issue, while Minnesota plans to revise its management plan to better counteract the threat posed by these aggressive pigs. Moreover, many states have banned hunting these pigs due to a low success rate and the resulting increased wariness, causing the pigs to become more nocturnal and harder to track. [Read More]

Exploring New Zealand's Southern Alps and Glaciers

by Edwin Torres, age 12

The Southern Alps is a mountain range located on the South Island of New Zealand. The western area of this island is known for its famous glaciers. The highest point is on Mount Cook, which reaches altitudes of about 12,349 feet. It is only 20 miles from the summit westward across the coastal strip to the Pacific Ocean. Toward the east side of where the glacier is located, the land descends about 80 miles across the Canterbury Plains. The winds that blow from the Tasman Sea are loaded with moisture, and when the damp air rises against the mountains, it drops big snowballs. The three most known glaciers are the Fox, Frans Josef, and Tasman. However, they are facing threats of melting due to climate change.

The glaciers on the west side of the mountains are steep and short. On the eastern side, the glaciers are different. The higher parts are rugged and steep. The Franz Josef and Fox glaciers flow on the western side. Both are by the Westland National Park, an area containing glaciers, rivers, lakes, alpine peaks, and snow fields. Lake Matheson shows a famous view of three of its major peaks which are Tasman, La Perouse, and Cook.

The Tasman Glacier flows down Mount Cook; it is also the largest in New Zealand. The glacier creates a narrow part of ice 17 miles long that widens in places as much as two miles, moving about 20 to 25 inches per day. Although its fast speed is incredible, the glacier is starting to retreat; its lowest end is at 2,500 feet above sea level. [Read More]

The Fox River Cleanup, A Battle Against Decades of Pollution

by Sofia Zapata, age 14

The Fox River flows across central and east-central Wisconsin to Green Bay and was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals during the mid-20th century It took almost 17 years to clean the entire river.

Between the 1950s and 1970s, the Fox River began to be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, created by seven Fox River Valley paper companies. This chemical compound causes various harmful effects such as cancer and other health conditions. In addition, this substance can cause liver damage, acne-like skin, and neurobehavioral and immunological abnormalities in children.

There were many debates around the cleanup of the Fox River. One of them was about who would pay for the cleanup. Environmental activists said that the seven companies should pay to clean the river because they were the ones who contaminated it. However, the seven companies argued that taxpayers should also have to pay some of the cost. At the end of this argument, everyone decided that the seven paper companies responsible had to pay all the costs with a total estimated $1.3 billion. [Read More]

Railroad Merger Could Mean More Hazardous Materials Will Cross the Mississippi River

by Oliver Zink, age 13

A new railroad along the Mississippi River will carry hazardous materials through communities and important geological areas with lots of wildlife. If any spills occur, wildlife and land will be damaged. The new railroad system will increase the carloads of two railroad companies by 41,000. There are significant concerns about increasing the chances of oil and gas spills.

The Canadian Pacific and the Kansas City Southern railroad companies are merging to create the first railroad stretching from Canada to Mexico. In case of an emergency, crews are on standby to clean up any spills using 66 different collections of equipment. The companies respond to their spills with qualified contractors. However, with the increase of loads, the chance of spills has risen and the need to increase the amount of this equipment has gone up as well. In some areas, it will be a challenge to clean up spills due to possible spring floods in the area.

Nothing is preventing the construction of this railroad as it would cost money and more time. The trains will carry hazardous materials such as crude oil and petrol gas. Since the companies are common carriers, they are obligated to accept any good offer. [Read More]

Public Health Officials Issue PFAS Updates for Dane County Fisheries

by Amelia Pearson, age 13

In 2023, there was an updated per-and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) warning enforced by the Dane County Public Health due to concerns about the 2023 fishing season. PFAS are harmful human-made chemicals that are used in a vast variety of products from firefighting foams to something as simple as fast-food wrapping.

One major concern centers around PFAS found in fish. Due to this, the Department of Natural Resource (DNR) and Department of Health Services (DHS) suggest a limit on the number of certain fish people should consume, such as Crappie, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, and White Bass, which was recently added to the list. The DNR and DHS recommend only one meal including any of these four types of fish a month.

Due to the outcome of the fish sampling in 2020, the DNR heavily recommended new PFAS-based fish consumption advisories for Yahara Chain waters in Dane and Rock county. There was also a raised level of perfluoro octane sulfonic acid (PFOS), a type of PFAS found in various species of fish collected in lakes Monona, Kegonsa and Waubesa. [Read More]

Himalayan Glaciers Face up to 80% Ice Loss by 2100 Amid Rising Temperatures

By Valeria Moreno Lopez, age 16

Scientists believe that nearly a quarter of the world's population could face severe natural disasters by 2100 due to the alarming rate at which the Himalayan glaciers are melting. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), based in Nepal, has warned that the glaciers could lose up to 80% of their volume if worldwide temperatures increase by 3 degrees Celsius or more.

ICIMOD, which aims to preserve life and biodiversity in mountain and downstream populations, has reported that one-third of the glaciers from Afghanistan to Myanmar could disappear even in the best-case scenario. However, over the years, the calculations have changed. If worldwide temperatures rise between 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, less than half of the volume will be lost by 2100. Moreover, these temperatures could also exacerbate global droughts, wildfires, extreme floods, and food shortages. Professor Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, has stated, "In all three pillars of climate action - mitigation, adaptation, and loss and damage - we are at a standstill or going the wrong way, while the consequences of inaction are accelerating by the day." [Read More]

Nature's Lumberjacks: How Beavers Shape Ecosystems and Cultivate Harmony

by Dayanis Cruz, age 13

Beavers are one of the greatest engineers in the world. They make improvements to their habitat by creating waterways, dams, and lodges. They can cause conflict with farmers by eating their crops, or by building a lodge near a pond or a river.

A lodge is a dome that is made out of sticks and mud. There are underwater entries that lead to greenery above the water levels. To make a peaceful pond, beavers create dam walls that stop the current of water systems. Many peer groups of beavers share dams for several generations, but sometimes the ponds will fill up with dirt, forcing beavers to find a new location.

Beavers feed and build new lodges in their environment at night. Through winter, they hardly ever emerge from their lodge since it keeps them warm, making it perfect for the winter season. [Read More]

The Pink Amazon River Dolphin Faces Growing Environmental Threats

by Dani Garduño, age 12

When people think of animals in the Amazon, most usually think of pythons, toucans, or parrots. Yet, fewer people know about the Amazon River dolphin. The Amazon River dolphin is a strange-looking dolphin that has an effective way of navigating the Amazon River. This dolphin is found in South America up to the basins of the Orinoco River as well as in the northern part of the Madeira River.

The Amazon River dolphin has a unique body that can grow up to two or three meters long. They usually weigh up to 140-160 kilograms. What makes these dolphins unique is their color-changing skin that varies with their age. At a young age, their skin color is usually gray. However, when they start to mature, they begin to turn pink. These dolphins' eyes are small, yet their eyesight is very bold. Their beak is very long and is designed to hunt prey. Other dolphins have uniform dorsal fins and fin sizes, but the Amazon River dolphins do not have one. Instead, they have a hump that grows larger as they age. [Read More]

Rare Black Bears from Mexico Move into South Texas

by, Aria McClinton age, 13

Scientists have found that East Mexican black bears are moving from Mexico to southern Texas. Although these creatures are at risk of extinction, there is hope because their numbers are increasing, leading to bears spreading into Texas.

The numbers of bears moving to southern Texas are unknown, but they are often found in forests around Texas and moving along the Rio Grande in Mexico. Black bears in Texas are on the endangered species list; in Mexico, they are listed as ‘in danger of extinction’. Fortunately, Mexican black bears can adapt to live in many different environments like forests or mountains.

These bears like to scavenge for their food and their behavior is driven by their excellent sense of smell. That's also why they prefer to live near humans as it’s easy to access garbage, pet food, and fruit in the wild black bears like to hunt. They often have a wide diet of pine nuts, acorns, insects, and small mammals. [Read More]

Learn How to Help Wisconsin Pollinator Populations for a Blooming Ecosystem

by Camila Cruz, age 15

Many people undervalue our pollinators, but about 87% of flowering plants worldwide depend on them. And there are many ways we can help support them, from letting lawns grow to avoiding pesticides.

Pollinators are creatures that go from plant to plant to consume nectar and pollen. In doing this, they spread the pollen, helping plants reproduce. Pollen is necessary to fertilize plants. Some of the most popular pollinators in North America are hummingbirds, moths, flower flies, beetles, bees, butterflies, and, in the southwestern parts of the U.S. and Mexico, nectar-feeding bats.

Pollinators are very important to the environment and ecosystem. In the U.S., around 150 food crops depend on pollinators. Unfortunately, the population of pollinators is decreasing because of habitat loss, pests, nutritional deficiency, insecticides, and extreme weather events. [Read More]

Non-Native Honeybee Pollination May Decrease the Quality of Seeds Over Time

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 13

Recently, researchers have observed that the quality of seeds from flowers pollinated by honeybees is decreasing. Pollinators hunt for flowers in search of nectar and pollen. They are important to the food system since they help produce seeds for the ecosystem.

The seeds’ poor outcome could be because honeybees tend to spend their time going from flower to flower within the same plant, transferring pollen back into itself and resulting in inbred seeds. The study was conducted by ecologists Joshua Kohn and Dillion Travis from the University of California.

The bees that were most prominent in the study were honeybees that are not native to the United States. Non-native species are outnumbering native species of pollinators. The study showed that non-native pollinators took pollen away from native plant species and spread it to other plants of the same species, resulting in negative outcomes for native plants. [Read More]

Secrets of the Ice: Archaeologists Discover Ancient Arrowhead inside a Melting Glacier

by Camila Cruz, age 15

As glaciers begin to melt, archaeologists in Scandinavia are discovering artifacts that help them learn more about the past. Recently, researchers found a well-preserved 1,500-year-old arrow, in what they believe is an ancient hunting ground.

The archaeologists who discovered the arrow are part of “Secrets Of The Ice”, a group of scientists and glacial archaeologists in Norway who explore and pinpoint glaciers. This arrow is not just any arrow. Not only is it believed to be older than the Vikings that inhabited the land from roughly 800-1100 AD, but it is also extremely well preserved.

The arrow was found between two rocks in Norway in an area where ancient people likely hunted reindeer. The archeologists think that the arrow was lost in the snow when one of the hunters missed a shot. Archaeologists believe the arrow was frozen into a glacier, and when the glacier melted it made its way down to where it was found. The fletching which helps stabilize the arrow while it’s flying is gone, but the arrowhead is still attached to the shaft, which is a unique discovery. [Read More]

Climate Change and Habitat Loss Unveil Causes of Virus Spread from Bats to Humans

by Ayelen Flores Ruiz, age 13

Recently a disease that jumped from wild bats to humans came to be known as COVID-19. When it was first diagnosed, people suspected the disease arose from bats and as time progressed, some even falsely accused Asian populations of spreading the disease. It was unclear what started the pandemic, and because of this, scientists started attempting to discover and understand the real cause.

Scientists have learned that animals carry viruses but usually, they have no effect on other animals or humans. This is because the species has already had the virus multiple times and their immune system knows it like a best friend. The virus can then find a new species and, if its immune system does not recognize it, the virus can trigger a disease occurrence. With this information, it makes it helpful to know where, when, and why viruses pass from animals to humans. Alison Peel, a Canadian specialist in wild diseases said, “It is not easy to track when viruses jump from their wild host to a new one.” [Read More]

Dane County Land Purchase Protects 14 Acres Along Black Earth Creek

by Kaleab Afeworki, age 11

Dane County recently purchased 14.6 acres of land along Black Earth Creek to preserve its “beloved natural resources,” according to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.

Black Earth Creek, which runs through the village of Black Earth, Wisconsin, is a trout fishery that provides residents with a place for outdoor exploration. The property not only features a wide variety of green valleys but also serves as a trail connector for the Black Earth Creek Trail.

Parisi announced the proposal in March 2023, the Dane County Board approved a purchase price of $11,000 per acre the next month. This new purchase will work to preserve cropland and trout streams, along with expanding “outdoor recreation opportunities for Dane County residents and visitors,” Parisi added. [Read More]

Children of Color in Wisconsin More Likely to Test Positive for Lead Poisoning

by Hanna Eyobed, age 18

Low-income communities and children of color in Milwaukee are disproportionately harmed by lead poisoning. Affecting one of eight children across most regions of Milwaukee, lead poisoning is a prevalent problem with serious health effects that raise concerns.

Black children are four times more likely to be victims of lead poisoning than white children, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. With lead poisoning rates of 6.5%, Black children lead in the city of Milwaukee, followed by: Native American (3.2%), Asian American & Pacific Islander (3%), Hispanic (2.6%), and white (1.6%) children. The city has the highest lead poisoning rate for children under the age of six in Wisconsin. Lead poisoning can cause damage to the brain and nervous system along with halting development and growth in children. Fortunately, the percentage of children found with hazardous amounts of lead in their blood (5mgc/dl) has gradually decreased since 2001. [Read More]

Wisconsin DNR Proposes New Rules for Endangered Species

by Lah’Nylah Bivens, age 15

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is planning to change the rules for handling endangered species.

The department is preparing to offer a blanket permit for “incidental takings” of endangered species, such as when surveys are being taken or when breeding is needed to regulate the population.

The blanket permit would allow people to handle endangered species, by removing or relocating animals and plants. These species would only be removed when they are in danger or when something is built that is disturbing the environment. [Read More]

Parasite Manipulation Alters Gray Wolf Behavior

by Amare Smith, age 19

There is a parasite called “Toxoplasma gondii” that changes the behaviors of gray wolves. The infected wolves make bolder decisions compared to the uninfected ones. Infected wolves are more prone to taking risks, and therefore there is a higher chance that they will leave their pack, create their own, or kill other wolves.

Research revealed that these parasites can negatively alter the wolves’ fate. For example, wolves leaving their pack or becoming leaders can cause them to starve or fight other wolves more frequently.

After analyzing 26 years' worth of data from 299 wolves in Yellowstone National Park, researchers have found that the cougar is also at high risk of contracting Toxoplasma gondii. It is believed that a feedback loop has been created in which infected wolves lead members of their pack into areas where cougars reside and therefore get more wolves infected. However, more research is needed to confirm this phenomenon. It was also determined that this parasite can control other smaller animals like mice. [Read More]

3M Manufacturing Company Contaminates Mississippi River with Forever Chemicals

by Alan Cruz, age 19

In the late 2000s, it became evident that "forever chemicals" were present in the bloodstream of almost every American. As a result, officials in Minnesota pressed 3M to lessen pollutants spilled into the Mississippi River at its manufacturing facility southeast of the Twin Cities. 3M is a global conglomerate that created these extremely toxic chemicals for use in their wide range of products, from adhesives to medical, building materials, and home cleaning supplies. Lawsuits spurred 3M to reduce pollution and clean up forever chemicals at locations close to another of its factories. These chemicals are known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS). In Illinois, it’s a different story. A 3M facility on the Mississippi River roughly 15 miles from the Quad Cities has been contaminating the air and water for more than a decade. Illinois state regulators have repeatedly failed to hold the company responsible. [Read More]

Endangered Bird Species Makes a Comeback in Wisconsin

by Sofia Zapata, age 13

The Kirtland’s Warbler was one of the first birds that were on the endangered species list, created in 1973. This type of bird is a gray and yellow songbird, they are a beautiful and unique species.

The habitat of the Kirtland’s Warbler is in forests and grassy areas located in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Canada. During winter, these birds migrate to sunny places like the Bahamas. When they fly back to the U.S., they stop to rest in forests and marshes.

The primary conservation concerns are habitat loss or degradation and parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds. Partners in Flight, a conservation organization for birds, estimates the global breeding population at 4,800 individuals and rates the species a 16 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, which is a rating given to endangered species. The group lists Kirtland's Warbler on the Yellow Watch List for species with restricted ranges. [Read More]

Nitrates Discharged in Mississippi River

by Daniel Li, age 15

A harmful chemical produced by oil companies and slaughterhouses, known to cause cancer and birth defects, makes up a vast majority of chemical pollution.

A recent study found that approximately 94.5 million pounds of nitrates were released into the Mississippi River in one year, making up more than half of all released chemicals nationwide.

These nitrates were the most abundant toxic substances found in U.S. waterways, primarily from industries such as petroleum refineries and meat and poultry processing plants. One hundred and seventy-five million pounds of nitrates alone were released by industries, comprising more than 91% of all toxic chemicals released by weight in the United States. These nitrates are primary sources of plant nutrients, but they are not as beneficial as they seem. [Read More]

The Lifecycle of a Wolf Pup

by Joseph Zheng, age 9

In spring, females wolves give birth to newborn pups in dens after nine weeks of pregnancy.

One adult wolf fits perfectly into a single den, which is dug ten feet long prior to pregnancy. During the first month after the pups are born, the mother takes full responsibility for the wolf pack.

The puppies remain in their dens for the first few weeks to stay warm and protected as they are initially deaf. Each pup weighs about one pound. Their mother will start to breastfeed them until they are old enough to eat meat. After their first month, the responsibility of survival shifts from solely the mother to the entire pack. This caretaking method helps form a bond between the newest members and the rest of the pack. [Read More]

Invasive Carp Enter the Wisconsin River

by Sofia Zapata, age 13

An invasive carp species that originates from Europe and Asia has been affecting many rivers in the United States, including our own Wisconsin River. If scientists don't resolve this issue or find ways to control the populations, this could be very dangerous for the existing 98 different species that reside in the Wisconsin River.

For over 100 years, the Asian carp has invaded the United States. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says that the carp are traveling from Asia to the Mississippi River and followed by the Wisconsin River. This carp can be very dangerous for our rivers because they are really aggressive hunters, which initiates competition for other species.

Asian carp may live up to 20 years and as they grow, they mature between four to eight years in their life. They are an interesting species because of their jumping ability, however this can be dangerous to boaters. Specifically, adult Asian carp weighing 40-60 pounds can jump up to 10 feet above the water’s surface, unlike any other common species. [Read More]

Scientists Say Invasive Species of Crayfish Might Leave Wisconsin on its Own

by Lah’Nylah Bivens, age 15

The rusty crayfish appeared in Wisconsin 50 years ago. Since this crayfish is not native to Wisconsin it is considered an invasive species. The rusty crayfish pushed native crayfish out of their dens and ate the native aquatic plants, causing harm to the lakes. This harmed the local spawning grounds, leaving fish unprotected.

Rusty crayfish may have found their way to Wisconsin by traveling in buckets to be used as bait. These crayfish are native to Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and the streams of the Ohio River Basin states. They also can be found in New Mexico, Northeastern states, areas in Ontario, Canada, and states surrounding Wisconsin.

Crayfish reproduce at alarming rates due to the female rusty crayfish laying around 80 to 575 eggs at a time. It takes about three to six weeks, depending on the temperature of the water, for the eggs to hatch. Scientists have studied these crayfish over the years and have found that the population can die off naturally. Due to destroying their own habitats and fungal diseases, recent studies have shown that the rusty crayfish population has dropped to zero. [Read More]

Sanderlings Are Arctic Breeders with a Love for Sandy Beaches — by Siheon Park, age 11

Sanderling birds have unusual lives. Their breeding habitat is the Arctic tundra, but they hate the cold! [Read More]

Greenland’s Frozen Hinterlands are Melting Faster than Expected

by Theodore B. Morrison, age 15

Climate change has been impacting the planet for ages since humans started producing greenhouse gases. One impact climate change has had is the melting of the glaciers, which scientists have been trying to track for some time. One group has been following a particular ice stream to help keep track of the effects of climate change.

This group used GPS to track ice stream movements. The furthest point inland observed by this group transitioned from approximately 344 meters a year to 351 meters a year in three years. The quick movement of ice streams is projected to raise the global sea level by 14 to 16 millimeters by 2100. That is the same quantity of increase in global sea level rise by Greenland’s entire ice sheet in the last 50 years. [Read More]

Drought Causes Saltwater to Invade the Mississippi River System — by Dulce Vazquez, age 14

The Mississippi River water level is reaching historical lows. A part of the Mississippi River measured in New Orleans is just three feet above sea level, which is very unusual and damaging to the boats that rely on the river and causes wildlife to act in different ways. [Read More]

Locks and Dams on the Mississippi River Need Fixing — by Alan Cruz, age 19

The Mississippi River is a lifeline for the American economy and global food supply, with around 175 million tons of freight transported on its waters every year. However, the century-old locks and dams that guide the barges along the river are well past their expected lifespan. Uncertainties about who should pay for maintenance and repairs only add to the resulting slower transit times and fears of a major breakdown in the future. [Read More]

They like it warm: Africa’s Unique Penguins — by Dilma Attidekou, age 8

Penguins are known to live in cold areas. However, one species of penguins are born in Africa. These African penguins can live to be 15 years old, but many don't reach that age as their lifespan is decreasing due to human interaction and predator attacks. [Read More]

Megadrought in California Threatens Western Joshua Tree — by Sol-Saray, age 10

Have you ever heard of the Western Joshua Tree? The Western Joshua Tree is known for its spiky branches. It also looks similar to an acacia tree. [Read More]

Wisconsin DNR Drafts New Plan for Wolf Hunt — by Zayn Khalid, age 12

Hunters and animal rights advocates are frustrated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) because they did not set a standard for wolf hunting. Animal rights advocates want wolf hunting to be illegal, but hunters want to hunt. What will the DNR do? [Read More]

¿Qué causa la industria del reciclaje fallida de Estados Unidos? — por Yoanna Hoskins, 17 años de edad

La pandemia causó muchos cambios en la sociedad, pero también resaltó cuestiones que antes habían pasado desapercibidas. El engaño de la industria del reciclaje de plásticos es solo un ejemplo. En particular, Covid-19 demostró cuán sensible es la industria del reciclaje de plásticos a las variaciones en los precios del petróleo. [Read More]

It's Stormwater Week in Wisconsin! Have You Seen one of these Murals in Your Neighborhood? — by Josepha Da Costa

When rainwater runs off the land and enters a storm drain, it often empties into a nearby body of water and remains untreated. Before heavy development, natural land absorbed 80-100% of rainwater. Currently, in urbanized areas, anywhere from 40-100% of water does not get absorbed. [Read More]

Low Water Levels in Mississippi River Expose Artifacts and History — by Owen Ayite-Atayi, age 15

The Mississippi River is the second longest river in the United States and is 2,340 miles long. Although the Mississippi River is a majestic river, there are still many mysteries in this river, especially regarding its artifacts. [Read More]

Should Farmers Switch to Solar? — by Camila Cruz, age 15

Solar panels are going to require millions of acres of land to be a viable solution against climate change. In particular, these acres are owned by farmers. Scientists are on a mission to make it work for both parties by putting solar panels in the same location as crops. [Read More]

The Science Behind Spring's Most Popular Weed — by Malak Al Quraishi, age 12

When you're picking weeds, you may wonder how dandelions spread so easily across the grass. You might ask yourself, why are dandelions so effective at spreading their seeds widely? [Read More]

First-of-its-kind Experiment Uses Lab-bred Trees to Stop Pollution — by Leilani McNeal, age 17

The U.S. Forest Service is trying a “first-of-its-kind” experiment that involves specialized trees that may keep contaminants from leaching out of landfills. [Read More]

City of Madison Continues to Make Progress in Composting Programs — by Mariama Bah, age 15

Citywide composting in Madison has had a challenging history, but supporters are still trying to make it a reality. Compost is a mixture of decomposed organic matter typically used as fertilizer as it is high in nutrients for soil. [Read More]

New Land Purchase Will Protect Wildlife and Wetlands in Dane County — by Dulce Maria Vazquez, age 14

Groundswell Conservancy is a not-for-profit conservation group that recently bought 34 acres of wetland habitat in Dane County. The land is located in the Town of Dunn near the Lower Mud Lake Natural Resource Area. This purchase will help groundswell achieve its mission of protecting wildlife habitats in Dane County and south-central Wisconsin. [Read More]

How One of China's Most Beautiful Attractions Saved Lives — by Sedona Afeworki, age 14

Where would be a good place to hide if something bad ever happened? The Guilin Hills is a place in China where many people hid during World War II and the following civil war when clashing armies turned the region into a battlefield. The hills also have a lot of caves, one of many ways they’ve played a role in Chinese history. [Read More]

Recent Drought Slows River Traffic on the Mississippi — by Dayanara Flores Gonzalez, age 15

Over 500 million tons of agricultural and other products are shipped through the Mississippi River every year. More than 40 percent of the global food supply starts at the River Basin. A phenomenon that happens about once a decade, the water level is at a record low of just three feet above sea level near New Orleans. [Read More]

Wisconsin Launches Online Map to Track PFAS Pollution Across the State — by Alan Cruz, age 19

Wisconsin environmental regulators have taken a significant step in addressing the issue of toxic “forever chemicals” by unveiling an innovative online tool. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) introduced an interactive map in October designed to track the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. [Read More]

Dane County Students Gather to Discuss Climate Change at Second Annual Conference — by Desteny Alvarez, age 17

For the second year in row, students from around Dane County will gather to address climate change issues. The second annual Dane County high school climate action conference will take place at the Alliant Energy Center on Saturday, November 12. [Read More]

Wisconsin Begins PFAS Testing this Fall — by Sandy Flores Ruíz, age 16

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are a family of synthetic chemicals. They are used in everyday household products, such clothes, carpets, nonstick cookware, packaging, and firefighting foam due to their ability to repel water and stains. The PFAS family of approximately 5,000 chemicals are known as “forever chemicals” because they last for a long period of time in the environment and human body. Research suggests that these chemicals can cause various types of cancers, decrease birth weights, damage the immune and reproductive systems, impact hormone regulation, and alter thyroid hormones. [Read More]

What Fuel­s America’s Failed Recycling Industry? — by Yoanna Hoskins, age 17

The pandemic caused numerous changes in society, but it also highlighted issues that had previously gone unnoticed. Deception in the plastics recycling industry is just one example. In particular, Covid-19 demonstrated how sensitive the plastics recycling industry is to swings in oil prices. [Read More]

Wisconsin Considers Updated PFAS Rules — by Gabriella Shell, age 16

After failure earlier this year, the Wisconsin DNR is once again attempting to tighten restrictions on one of the state’s biggest water pollutants. [Read More]

It’s an “Interruption Year” in Wisconsin:
Snowy Owls Are Moving South
by Mariama Bah, age 15

Keep your eye to the ground and be careful when you’re walking in the Arctic Tundra, because you may find a snowy owl nesting site. Treeless, wide, hilly spaces are where snowy owls prefer to nest and hunt. These owls mainly eat small mammals, but their diet can range from rodents and rabbits to ducks and geese. [Read More]

State of Wisconsin Issues PFAS Warnings for Dane County Fisheries — by Makaya Rodriguez, age 17

PFAS, also known as (poly-fluoroalkyl substances), are man-made chemicals. They were used on clothing, carpets, non-stick pans, cookware, and as firefighting foam. PFAS are made to be stain and water-resistant. These PFAS chemicals are being found in many Wisconsin bodies of water, specifically in Dane County. [Read More]

Lluvia ácida: una consecuencia de la contaminación

por Jason Medina, 11 años de edad; traducido por Yoanna Hoskins, 17 años de edad

La lluvia ácida ha existido para 150 años, la misma cantidad de tiempo que el carbón se ha utilizado para poder. La lluvia ácida afecta el bienestar de los animales, las plantas, los árboles y los lagos.

Cada año, cien millones de toneladas de dióxido de azufre son liberadas a la atmósfera por la quema de combustibles fósiles. En la década de 1970, los Estados Unidos produjeron treinta y dos millones de toneladas. Cuando el dióxido de azufre está en la atmósfera y se mezcla con la lluvia, crea lluvia ácida. La acidez es una medida de la concentración de iones de hidrógeno (pH) y el valor más bajo de pH, más ácida se vuelve una sustancia. El pH del agua destilada es de siete y el del agua de lluvia natural es de alrededor de 5.6. La lluvia ácida está bajando el pH de algunos lagos debajo de cinco.

Casi 1,800 lagos en el sur de Noruega están más o menos desprovistos de peces. En la mitad de los lagos de Suecia, los peces están seriamente agotados y los ríos salmoneros también sufren mucho. En Canadá, unos cincuenta mil lagos también se han visto afectados, así como cientos de lagos en Adirondacks en el estado de Nueva York. Cuanto más ácida es la condición, más aluminio se disuelve en el suelo. [Read More]

Growing Population of Invasive Moth Species in Wisconsin — by Desteny Alvarez, age 18

Recently, we have seen a rise in the number of spongy moths in Wisconsin. These moths cause skin rashes and are a danger to our environment. [Read More]

First Plant Successfully Sprouts in Lunar Soil — by Daniel Li, age 15

The first seeds to ever sprout in lunar soil poked their heads above moon dirt at the University of Florida in May. Decades of research and experimentation led to this breakthrough which marks the first time terrestrial plants have grown in extra-terrestial soil. It also offers hope that astronauts will one day be able to grow food on the moon. [Read More]

New Report Exposes “Greenwashing” in the Clothing and Fashion Industries — by Sandy Flores-Ruiz, age 16

The Changing Market Foundation, an environmental advocacy group, said recently that certification systems claiming meant to check the sustainability practices of fashion companies fall short of public expectations. These practices support greenwashing in the textile industry. Greenwashing is the deliberate concealment of information by a company in order to project an image of environmental stewardship to the public. [Read More]

Scientists Look for Ways to Protect Wisconsin Walleyes — by Julian Medina Ruiz, age 14

Wisconsin lakes are facing a sharp decline in the walleye populations. This trend is most apparent in the northern part of the state. [Read More]

Scientists Study Effects of Climate Change in Lake Superior — by Moises A. Hernandez, age 17

About ten years ago, a bloom of cyanobacteria appeared in Lake Superior. Since that time, scientists have searched for answers as to why this problem occurs in this specific lake. [Read More]

Plastic Pollution Overwhelms America’s Recycling Systems — by Gabriella Shell, age 16

Generations of Americans have grown up on a doctrine of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Everyone, from the oldest Boomers to the youngest of Gen Z know what to do when they see the little triangle made of arrows on the bottom of a plastic product: chuck it in the recycling bin. However, unbeknownst to the masses of routine recyclers, this casual recycling may be causing more problems than it fixes. [Read More]

Watch Out for Poison Hemlock in Wisconsin — by Anissa Attidekou, age 12

There are a wide variety of poisonous plants that are toxic to humans and animals. Some can lead to extreme pain and others can even be deadly. One of these deadly plants is named the poison hemlock. [Read More]

Public Service Commission Approves New Solar Projects in Wisconsin — by Mariama Bah, age 15

Last year the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a $925 million investment by Alliant Energy to construct six solar farms across Wisconsin. The projects are currently in development. Recently, the PSC voted to approve Alliant Energy's plan to buy or build six more solar farms, an investment of an additional $620 million. [Read More]

Harriet Tubman Was an Expert Naturalist — by Katina Maclin, age 16

Harriet Tubman was an expert naturalist. The Underground Railroad’s most famous conductor used her understanding of geography, wildlife biology, and astronomy to guide people to freedom. [Read More]