Environment

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Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

One of the startups selected for this year's The Water Council's BREW Accelerator program was on display last week outside the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District headquarters.

Menomonee River water was being sucked up into the CORNCOB demonstration model – picture a water heater tipped on its side. A gleaming metal barrel connected to pipes and valves is being monitored by a sophisticated computer system.

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It was a meeting of nerds and sharks.

The self-described "biotech nerds" and "robotic nerds" were seven high school students from Washington, D.C. The eight teens who call themselves "sharks" and flew in from Ghana. "The shark is a big fish so it means you're big. Knowledgeable," explains Stephanie Obbo of Ghana, an aspiring medical doctor.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Wednesday evening update:

The National Trust's presentation did not bring the Milwaukee County Task Force on the Mitchell Park Conservatory Domes any closer to its mission.  It is  "to recommend a course of action to the County Executive and County Board" on a sustainable future of the Domes.

Milwaukee County Parks Director John Dargle described the National Trust's report as "weak and vague."

Fellow task force member John Gurda suggested Milwaukee County engineers analyze the report and provide feedback at the next meeting. Its date has not yet been set.

By a largely party-line vote Tuesday, the Senate approved a bill that repeals Obama-era hunting restrictions on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. The House already voted last month to abolish those restrictions — which were instituted by the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2016 to protect predator species from hunters — and so the bill now heads to the desk of President Trump, who is widely expected to sign it.

Though he didn't come from a farming family, from a young age Tim Joseph was fascinated by the idea of living off the land. Reading magazines like The Stockman Grass Farmer and Graze, he "got hooked on the idea of grass-fed agriculture — that all energy and wealth comes from the sun," he explains, "and the shorter the distance between the sun and the end product," the higher the profit to the farmer.

On a cold and windy day off the coast of Alabama, a team of researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts gathers, conducting the first test outside a laboratory for a potential new solution to a challenging problem: cleaning oil spills from water.

The invention, the Flame Refluxer, is "very simple," says Ali Rangwala, a professor of fire protection engineering: Imagine a giant Brillo pad of copper wool sandwiched between layers of copper screen, with springy copper coils attached to the top.

With fires crackling in the peat soils, smoke billowing up and hot ash raining down just a stone's throw from his house, farmer Arif Subandi chokes up as he surveys the scene.

"Now our land is burned, our environment neglected," he says, sobbing. "Where will my children and grandchildren go?"

The 48-year-old father of five, who lives just outside the capital of Indonesia's West Kalimantan Province on Borneo, says he doesn't have enough to support his family. He's worried about local companies trying to take the land from him.

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A Norwegian fund that manages government employees' pensions has decided to remove its investments from the companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, a move that was reportedly inspired by pressure from Norway's indigenous Sami peoples.

Earth Day is coming up on April 22.

It's an occasion to think about the risks we all face from climate change — and to recognize the toll these problems take on the people in the developing world, who are especially vulnerable. When oceans rise, when drought strikes, the consequences can be dire. People are losing their homes and becoming climate refugees, losing their crops, losing their water sources. Disease-carrying insects are moving into new territory.

In some parts of the country, cold weather is threatening crops. Meanwhile, California has been so unseasonably wet that its deserts are experiencing what's called a "super bloom." After years of drought, the normally arid desert is lush.

"It just looks like a sea of flowers," says Janet Gordon, a geologist from Los Angeles.

"You got purple, red, yellows and blues," adds Joe Sheidness, visiting from San Diego.

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