Environment

This has been one of the worst — and most expensive — wildfire seasons ever in the Northwest, where climate change and a history of suppressing wildfires have created a dangerous buildup of fuels.

With fires burning hotter and more intense, there are renewed calls to change how the federal government pays to fight the biggest fires.

"These large and intense fires are a natural disaster in much the same way a hurricane or a tornado or a flood is," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. "And they ought to be funded as such through the emergency funding of FEMA."

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If the term is new to your vocabulary – permaculture combines natural landscaping and edible gardening, with the aim of mimicking patterns and relationships found in nature.

Today through Sunday the 2015 Wisconsin Permaculture Convergence is underway on a small farm outside Fredonia, Wisconsin. Summer fruit tree grafting and the ins and outs of fermentation will be among a multitude of topics of discussion.

Bryce Ruddock is a human lexicon of all things permaculture.

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In 1996, USGS scientists embarked on a 24 hour inventory of a park in Washington D.C. Their aim was to identify every plant and animal species on the grounds, and the term BioBlitz was coined.

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More than 21,000 people are out of work this year from California's drought, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. The majority are in agriculture. Those farmworkers lucky enough to have a job are often working harder for less money.

Leaning forward and crouching from the waist, Anastacio picks strawberries from plants about as tall as his knees. We're not using his last name because Anastacio and his family are undocumented.

It's one of the greatest, and most disturbing, questions of the Fukushima disaster: What happened to the nuclear fuel inside the plant? Now physicists are trying to shed some light on the problem using particles from the edge of space.

The Fukushima accident was broadcast around the world. On March 11, 2011, an earthquake and tsunami struck the plant, knocking out cooling in three working reactors. The uranium fuel inside melted down.

But nobody's quite sure where it went.

In 1998, Ben Lecomte swam across the Atlantic Ocean. The 47-year-old athlete is preparing for another historic plunge: swimming across the ocean on the other side of the country.

At the end of September, Lecomte plans to take off from a Tokyo beach and spend the next six months making his way some 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco.

He'll swim for eight hours a day, then board a support boat to eat and sleep. The next day he'll jump back in the water at the exact same spot.

To hear the full conversation, click the audio link above.

Update at 8:30 p.m.:

Danny has weakened to a tropical storm, the NOAA has announced, and the maximum sustained winds have dropped to 65 mph.

Our previous post continues:

Hurricane Danny has weakened a bit, getting a downgrade from a Category 3 to a Category 2 storm as it moves across the Atlantic toward the islands of the eastern Caribbean.

Friday afternoon, Danny became the first major hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic season, after it was upgraded to a Category 3 storm. It's still very far out in the Atlantic, and so far there's no sign it'll pose a threat to the United States.

That leads to a question: When was the last time a big hurricane hit the U.S.?

It might surprise you, but the country is experiencing a historic, nine-year lucky streak when it comes to major hurricanes.

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A day long festival Saturday at Atwater Beach in Shorewood celebrates surfing and the importance of Lake Michigan.

Surf @Water kicks off with a sunrise paddle and ends with a surf film festival at sunset.

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