Inside Nicaragua’s Largest Central Market, Wilderness Act 50th Anniversary, Wisconsin Life: Guitar-Makers, The Battery Of The Future

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Lithium-iron batteries have changed our lives and power a huge portion of our electronic devices. But now scientists are hard at work developing the replacement for the lithium-iron battery. A writer fills us in on the potential replacement technologies. We also talk about the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, and learn about the state of the environment and the economy in Nicaragua. And in Wisconsin Life, we hear about the craft of guitar-making.

Featured in this Show

  • Conservationist Says Wilderness Act Had Huge Impact But Revision Is Now Needed

    A Wisconsin conservation expert says that the 50-year-old federal Wilderness Act signified a turning point in the effort to preserve American wilderness when it was signed, but that it needs some updating and revision to protect some of the nation’s natural treasures.

    When President Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law on Sept. 3, 1964, its impact was huge, according to Mark Peterson, the executive director of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute at Northland College in Ashland

    “In the history of the planet, there has never been another piece of legislation prior to this like the Wilderness Act,” he said. “We said, as a country, we’re going to mark some areas on the map that have outstanding opportunities for solitude and are largely pristine, and we’re not going to touch them — we’re going to leave them alone.”

    That meant going beyond the protections offered to national parks. Roads, vehicles and permanent structures are not allowed in the 110 million acres of designated wilderness lands, and mining and logging are banned as well.

    “It means that as a nation that there are some areas that are so special and so wonderful and can teach us so much and improve the quality of our lives so greatly,” Peterson said, “we should set them aside for all time.”

    Passed by overwhelming margins in both houses of Congress, the law had been at least 30 years in the making. Peterson said conservationists had been trying to protect one area at a time, starting as early as the 1930s, but reached a point where they felt federal legislation was necessary to avoid a long series of battles between conservation and development.

    Notably, the Wilderness Act has strong Wisconsin roots.

    “Aldo Leopold of Baraboo was one of the early proponents and visionaries of wilderness,” Peterson said, adding that Leopold followed in the footsteps of Wisconsin’s John Muir.

    Peterson said that both Muir and Leopold were early supporters of what were at the time seen as radical views of nature.

    “At a time when northern Wisconsin was being stripped of all the timber resources available for growing here, the idea of planting trees, or setting aside areas that would not be cut, were quite novel,” he said.

    Peterson would like to see more lands designated as wilderness.

    “There are many national parks, like Yellowstone, whose lands are not included in the wilderness act,” he said. “While we generally think of natural parks being protected we also know that their mandate is for recreation and oftentimes they’re not fully protected.”

    He would also like to see more thought put into another issue: How much human intervention is needed to deal with problems caused by humans in these wilderness areas. He pointed toward invasive species as a case in point, like Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

    Peterson said in addition to the need to preserve natural beauty and heritage, people need an opportunity to find a connection with real nature, and he points toward physical and mental benefits. In a hyper-connected, high-tech world, he said, “Getting back to the wilderness is probably more important than it ever was.”

  • Inside Nicaragua's Largest Central Market

    We go along with a UW Oshkosh professor on a trip to Central America’s largest market and look at the the state of the environment and the economy in Nicaragua.

  • On 50th Anniversary Of Wilderness Act Signing, What Challenges Still Remain?

    50 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Wilderness Act, which afforded protection to millions of acres of natural land across America. An conservationist talks about the history of the act, and discusses the challenges faced by our country’s wild places.

  • The Race To Build The Battery Of The Future

    Lithium-ion batteries have transformed our lives. They power our phones, tablets and even some vehicles…but now, scientists and researchers are hard at work developing the lithium-ion battery’s replacement. A writer describes the technologies that could power the battery of the future, and how they might transform our lives.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Mark Peterson Guest
  • Douglas Haynes Guest
  • Erik Sofge Guest
  • Chris Malina Producer