Series

Climate change is already beginning to affect Wisconsin in subtle but important ways. As the average global temperature creeps upward, climatologists have projected that the upper Midwest will experience heavier precipitation. This shift means not just a greater volume of water in the form of rain or snow, but also more intense storms happening more frequently. While climate change on its own isn't necessarily the culprit behind a given storm, its effects can intensify existing weather patterns and make long-running climatic cycles more unpredictable. While researchers work to understand how climate change interacts with seasonal cycles like El Niño and how human activities affect the outcome of catastrophic floods, communities across the state face new challenges protecting people, infrastructure and their economy.More
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It's an unsavory truth in American democracy that politicians, to some extent, do get to choose their voters. The party in power often tries to draw state legislative and U.S. House of Representatives district maps to its own advantage, and courts have been reluctant to stop it unless there's strong evidence of racial discrimination. The Republican wave of election victories in 2010, and the increasing sophistication of redistricting software set the stage for an aggressive new batch of legislative maps in Wisconsin and other states. Multiple federal lawsuits challenging this redistricting followed. One court challenge arising from Wisconsin, Gill v. Whitford, set out to prove that partisan gerrymandering could violate voters' rights even if it wasn't racially discriminatory. The case reached the U. S. Supreme Court, and the resulting decision could trigger a seismic change in how political parties consolidate electoral power.More
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The pursuit of knowledge about Wisconsin's flora and fauna is not just the province of professional researchers. Public participation in science has woven itself into Wisconsin's history of naturalism and conservation, an important complement to work in the state's research universities and regulatory agencies. People around the state have volunteered their time to help with everything from monitoring invasive insect pests to observing Wisconsin's bat and bird populations. People who participate in civic or citizen science have the opportunity to develop a closer connection with the natural world, and a chance to develop greater understanding of and consensus around environmental issues. Wisconsinites who aren't scientists in their daily lives also can and do undertake all sorts of projects to help address environmental challenges, from building rain gardens to fostering habitat for monarch butterflies.More
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The deer herd at the heart of Wisconsin's beloved hunting tradition faces a growing threat in the form of chronic wasting disease, caused by an infectious type of protein called prions. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began testing for CWD in 1999, detecting more than 100,000 infected deer since, mostly in southern areas of the state. As DNR policies for monitoring CWD shift amid changing political priorities for wildlife management, hunters and scientists remain concerned about the disease's threat to the health of the deer herd.More
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Manufacturing and agriculture have historically reigned supreme in Wisconsin's economy. But automation and consolidation in those sectors, and a shifting emphasis toward service- and technology-based industries, means the nature of work is changing rapidly. As workers across the state seek to start their careers, pursue better jobs, or find themselves struggling to reap the benefits of economic growth, they're looking for new opportunities wherever they might find them, including outside Wisconsin. As demographic and workforce shifts shape the state's future, political and business leaders are looking to attract and retain workers with advanced skills and education. These efforts are related to larger forces affecting Wisconsin's future, including population decline in rural areas, the role of higher education, and how public resources are used to develop the economy.More
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