Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ocean Health Index

With 7 billion people on the planet, our oceans are subject to countless kinds of stress, like changing coastlines, oil spills, and much, much more.

 The Ocean Health Index is an initiative funded by Conservation International, the National Geographic Society, and the New England Aquarium. This index will include all possible dimensions surrounding how humans interact with the ocean, considering the costs and benefits of different actions and decisions- both to people and to marine environments. calls the index "the Dow Jones for ocean health"

According to some, this represents a new way of thinking about the environment. The next step is determining what actions we should take.

For more information, read about the index on, or the New York Times.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Gift of Water

What's the perfect holiday gift? According to, it's...water! For $25, this organization will send a holiday e-card to your gift's recipient- and an individual in a developing country will be able to have clean water for life. The e-card reads: "A gift of water has been made in your honor. May the happiness that your gift will bring to others be with you this holiday season and throughout the new year." is a nonprofit organization that provides access to safe water and sanitation to communities in Africa, South Asia, and Central America.

What can you do?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Healthy Dishes With Wisconsin Fishes"

Send your healthy fish recipes to the Wisconsin DNR for a chance to be featured in the DNR online cookbook or Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine!

Judging criteria includes species diversity, creativity, and ease of preparation, among others. Keep in mind, though, that the recipe must use a Wisconsin species of fish.

Click here for more information. The DNR will be accepting submissions via email until April 1, 2012. Good luck!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ecofriendly Holidays

Piles of used gift wrap, tangled lights that don't work, and heaps of plastic plates at the office holiday party have become a staple of the holidays. It's not hard to believe that Americans dispose of an additional 5 million tons of trash between Thanksgiving and New Years.  That's a 25% increase, but there's ways that you can help to minimize holiday waste without sacrificing fun or tradition.

  • Look for gifts that are durable, repairable, or recyclable, with minimal plastic packaging
  • Shop locally, or consider fair trade purchases
  • Give someone a membership to a museum or institute, plant a tree in their name, or consider purchasing a gift from Heifer International or Oxfam America
  • Recycle by wrapping gifts using sheet  music or colorful magazine ads- you'll save money, too!
Holiday Cheer
  • It takes 7-10 years to grow a Christmas tree- which is usualy useful for about one month. Consider purchasing a potted tree that can be kept alive outdoors throughout the year.
  • Ingredients for holiday meals usually travel about 1200 miles before showing up on our tables. That transit takes a lot of fuel and a lot of refrigeration. Purchasing locally-grown and in-season items can cut down on this behind-the-scenes waste.
Looking for more ways to make the holidays eco-friendly? Visit Ecology Center for a more complete list.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"How to Boil A Frog" at the Monona Public Library

On December 13, join the Monona Public Library at 6:30 pm for the film "How to Boil A Frog." This documentary uses comedy to portray the truths behind the need for sustainability, or, as the film's official website says, "too many people using up too little planet much too fast." The film isn't all doom-and-gloom, though- it also provides viewers with five ways they can act to help save the planet.

The film is part of Monona's Green Tuesdays and Thursdays Films and Lecture series, sponsored by The Natural Step Monona and numerous other local organizations. The series aims to spark conversation about the world and how we can help make it a better place.

Interested in seeing "How to Boil A Frog?" Click here for more information!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holocene vs. Anthropocene?

The most recent issue of Science News (available today in the library) briefly discusses the current debate: should the current Holocene epoch end and an Anthropocene epoch begin? The Holocene epoch is agreed to have begun around 10,000 BC, and follows the last glacial period.

Why the possible switch? Anthropocene is a currently unofficial term meaning "Age of Man," first used in 2000 by ecologist Eugene Stoermer. Many scientists are thinking such a change is in order since humans are having such widespread effects on the planet- effects that can be measured in the geologic record. According to Science News, such factors include radioactive elements from atomic bomb tests spreading through the environment, the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and sediment trapped by dams.

Interested in learning more? Check out the following:

Monday, December 5, 2011

Science Sites for Kids!

Educators are looking for ways to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education more interesting and appealing to students. Many students lose interest in these subjects as they grow older- a problem that could become crucial in future generations.

Check out the websites below to help promote STEM education to the students in your life:

Sid the Science Kid
Sid the Science Kid uses comedy to promote technology and science education for preschoolers. Check out show clips online- including fun interviews with robotics engineers, astronauts, and chemists. Kids learn the role science plays in their everyday lives, like how can openers were developed by engineers, how planes fly, and more.

NASA Space Place
NASA Space Place is a kid-friendly site that provides activities and projects- helping kids learn that science, technology, and space education can be fun.

Energy Quest
Energy Quest is a fun, interactive site, from the California Energy Commission, aiming to educate kids about sustainability and conservation.

Great Science for Girls
Great Science for Girls is a five year initiative from the National Science Foundation to broaden and sustain girls' interest in STEM. GSG will reach out to afterschool centers, providing resources like curriculum development, a website, and technical assistance.

For further information, visit the National Science Foundation's Resources for STEM Education.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Best Sci-Tech Books of 2011

Doing some holiday shopping for a science or tech-loving person? Consider a book! Check out these titles from Library Journals "Best Books 2011: Sci-Tech" list.
  • Eagleman, David. Incognito: The Hidden Lives of the Brain.
  • Greene, Brian. The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos.
  • Peterson, Dale. The Moral Lives of Animals.
  • Wolfe, Nathan. The Viral Storm: The Dawn of a New Pandemic Age
  • Yergin, Daniel. The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World
 View descriptions of the books and the full list at Library Journal.