A selection of stories

Why Electric Utilities Are Resorting to Dark Money and Bribes to Resist Renewables Audubon, March 2021
Many utility companies cling to old business models and dirty fuels rather than go through the tough energy transition climate change demands.

Scientists Investigate Covid-19 and Risk of Dementia Caregiving, March 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Buying Ethically Sourced Down Products Audubon, December 2020
A growing number of brands are prioritizing the welfare of the birds that supply the feathers stuffed into items like jackets, comforters, and pillows.

DNA Finds Pollutants in Green-Glowing Water Test Scientific American, December 2020
Bacteria inspire a new pollution-monitoring setup

Book Review: A Fresh Look at Our Neanderthal Relatives Undark, November 2020
In “Kindred,” Rebecca Wragg Sykes reveals how Neanderthal life was far more rich and varied than we ever imagined.

Lidar Advances Show Mosquito Rush Hours Scientific American, August 2020
New research shows how a laser-based system can help detect mosquito movements.

Strongest Evidence Yet Shows Air Pollution Kills Scientific American, July 2020
The finding comes as the Trump administration has been rolling back clean air regulations.

Activists shut down these cancer-causing plants. COVID is bringing them back Grist, June 2020

How to Dramatically Curb Extinction Scientific American, June 2020
A new model suggests a way to save half of tropical species.

COVID-19 May Permanently Shutter Museum Devoted to Vaccination Pioneer Smithsonian online, May 2020
In an ironic twist, Edward Jenner’s historic house is struggling to outlast the financial toll of being closed.

Self-Isolation Is Turning Children Into Budding Birders Audubon online, April 2020
During the coronavirus crisis, families are discovering their avian neighbors and nurturing the next generation of nature lovers.

Why COVID-19 Is Unlike Anything We’ve Seen Chicago online, April 2020
An infectious disease specialist answers questions about cases, contagion, and drugs.

Why Nobody Can Resist Baby Yoda New York Times for Kids, February 2020 (not available online)

New Process Could Provide More Sustainable Plastic Production Scientific American, February 2020
A common component of plastics could come from existing carbon sources

One Solution to the Carp Apocalypse: Just Eat Them Chicago online, December 2019
A Chicago fishmonger wants to make the invasive species into a delicacy.

When Animals Get Spooked New York Times for Kids, October 2019 (not available online)

The world needs topsoil to grow 95% of its food – but it’s rapidly disappearing The Guardian, May 2019
Without efforts to rebuild soil health, we could lose our ability to grow enough nutritious food to feed the planet’s population.

Could Mammoth Bones Reveal When Humans First Arrived in North America? Sapiens, May 2019
Paleontologist Dan Fisher is challenging scientific consensus about when people first came to the continent and how they may have changed the world around them.

US farmers count cost of catastrophic ‘bomb cyclone’ in midwest The Guardian, April 2019
With grain stores ruined and many fields still under water from last month’s extreme weather, producers are facing devastating losses.

Get ready for tens of millions of climate refugees MIT Technology Review, April 2019
Researchers are creating models of where people will move when climate shocks hit, but so far we’re just making educated guesses.

How Field Museum Scientists Protected a Swathe of the Amazon Chicago online, March 2019
For decades, museum staff has studied a megadiverse stretch of forest in Peru’s northeast. Now, it’s a designated national park.

Q&A: Escalating battle over Minnesota mine puts spotlight on studies of potential impacts Sciencemag.org, November 2018

Why Do We Like Being Scared? New York Times for Kids, October 2018 (not available online)

These Surfers Are Taking on U.S. Steel Outside online, October 2018
Surfers on Lake Michigan are getting sick, and they think they know why.

Clever use of public data could sidestep new rule Science, May 2018

One of Illinois’s Most Experienced Biologists Has Lessons for the Future Chicago online, April 2018
From urban coyotes to raccoon latrines, Chris Anchor has spent three decades studying wildlife for the Cook County Forest Preserve, gaining a breadth of knowledge few in his field can match. Now he’s trying to pass it on.

Snakes That Eat Other Snakes Could Help Birds in the South Audubon, March 2018
By restoring the country’s indigo snake population, scientists hope to bring balance to ecosystems—potentially benefiting songbirds.

Global climate science group ponders effort to recruit more female authors Science, March 2018

Collecting Down in a (Polar) Bear Market Hakai, November 2017
A warming Arctic could be trouble for the eider duck—and for the Inuit communities that collect its insulating feathers.

In Chicago, Controlled Fires Are Helping to Restore Crucial Bird Habitat Audubon, Summer 2017
The burns, conducted by Audubon Great Lakes and others, stave off invasive plants while spurring new growth at sites across the region.

8 Medical Inventions Created by Nurses Mental Floss, May 2017

More Immigrants, Bigger Smiles and Frowns Scientific American Mind, November 2016
People are more likely to wear their emotions on their sleeves in countries with a strong history of immigration.

Study finds criticisms of the Endangered Species Act unfounded Sciencemag.org, December 2015

Looks Fishy, Tastes Fishy. But Where’s the Fish? Science Friday, July 2015
For vegetarians, allergy sufferers, and the epicurious among us, chefs are getting creative with seafood substitutes.

Bye-bye Golf Courses, Hello Nature Preserves Audubon, September 2013
The Great Recession had at least one silver lining for wildlife: Golf courses are being turned into natural protected places.

Urban Farms Sprout Across the Country Audubon, March 2011
Gray asphalt and abandoned lots in cities are being turned into farms as city dwellers grow fruits and vegetables in the shadow of skyscrapers.

Band of Brothers Audubon, May 2010
Not even a tragic accident could derail two young men’s inspiring project to study one of North America’s least-understood birds. Their groundbreaking research is helping ornithologists understand how to help these birds as a warming climate alters.

A selection of Midwest Dispatches written for the Natural Resources Defense Council

Expand the DAPL? Only Illinois Stands in the Way May 2020
Environmental advocates are fighting a proposal to double the amount of crude oil flowing through the pipeline.

Can a New Tax on Uber and Lyft Rides in Chicago Change Communting Habits? February 2020
A surcharge on trips taken with ride-hailing services could reduce traffic, cut emissions, and help fund much-needed public transit improvements on the South and West Sides of the city.

These Preshistoric Fish Are Making a Slow Comeback in the Midwest, January 2020
Conservationists, fishers, and fans of the iconic lake sturgeon have seen some success in their efforts to revive the population, including through hand-rearing and releasing the babies—and yes, spearing the big ones.

America’s Dairyland May Have a PFAS Problem, October 2019
The toxic chemicals have been showing up in milk around the country, prompting midwestern farmers to take a closer look at their land. October 2019

After Children Began Getting Sick by the Dozens, Parents Took a Hard Look at Their Town’s Toxic Legacy, May 2019
The carcinogen TCE has been lurking in the ground beneath Franklin, Indiana, for decades. Now families are demanding answers.

A Coal-to-Diesel Refinery Is the Last Straw for These Hoosiers, February 2019
The air in southwestern Indiana is bad enough without the emissions from yet another proposed polluter.

A Tribe in Northern Minnesota Shows the Country How to Do Community Solar, December 2018
Photovoltaic panels on the Leech Lake reservation are generating clean power—and revenue to help those who need it most.

Stopping a Dakota Access Pipeline Leak in Under 10 Minutes? A Fairy Tale, Say the Standing Rock Sioux, May 2018
In a recent report, the tribe picks apart the pipeline company’s emergency response plan.

The Impact a Wisconsin LCD Plant May Have on the Great Lakes Is Not Crystal Clear, April 2018
The state is allowing Foxconn to take water from Lake Michigan, but what might the company leave behind?

Will Calling Out Indiana’s Super-Polluting Power Plants Lead to a Cleanup? January 2018
A recent study found that the state is home to four of the country’s most polluting power plants. But elected officials won’t even show up to hear their constituents’ concerns about it.

How Fish Autopsies Help in the Fight Against Asian Carp, October 2017
Dead fish tell many tales—but can they persuade authorities to strengthen Lake Michigan’s defenses against these ecological saboteurs?

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