December 11 - 20
Racine has 9 hours and 2 minutes of daylight and Superior has 8 hours and 32 minutes of daylight at the end of the period. Southern Wisconsin loses 5 minutes of daylight and northern Wisconsin has 6 minutes less than the previous period. The earliest sunset occurs well before the winter solstice. Between December 5 and 15, Milwaukee sees the sun disappear at 4:17 and Superior at 4:20.
Conservation giving and message: December is the giving season, when people reflect and donate to worthy causes. Among the thousands of important chartable organizations, which need help in accomplishing their goals, giving for conservation is the most challenging. Most of the reason why it’s harder to get people to donate is the way nature is communicated.
Recent research indicates a large proportion of the population contribute on moral grounds more so than economic realities. Financial incentives can be effective, but people want to maintain a good self-image. They prefer to see themselves as green rather than greedy. A good example recently occurred when during a conversation with a landowner about property rights. I posed the question to the landowner – would you take a large sum of money to use your land as a place to dump chemical wastes? He responded with great consternation, of course not. Then he posed a question to me, why would I jeopardize the productivity of my land? He wants his son to have it in the future. He basically does not want others telling him what to do.
The morality message can be a unifying one. Previous psychological work suggests morality can be divided into five main areas:
Harm and care – do unto others as you would do onto yourself. Be good yourself and empathize with those less fortunate, especially those suffering harm, whether it be humans, pets, or the environment.
Fairness and reciprocity – Everyone should have an equal shot by having a level playing field. Unfair practices deserve compensation those or the natural world so affected.
Group loyalty – team building – the group has ways of doing things and anyone entering the group adheres to its values.
Authority and respect – We are a nation of laws and leaders. We also attach respectful morality values to family leaders, organizations, and trusted icons.
Purity and sanctity - any value that a moral community implicitly or explicitly treats as possessing inﬁnite or transcendental signiﬁcance that precludes comparison.
The purity and sanctity moral message is the most effective over the full spectrum of world views. An example of using this message was two different responses to about do not pollute. The first invoked the harm care message of we harming the earth by pollution and we need to care for it. The second message states “pollution is contaminating both the earth and people’s bodies and we need to clean it up”. The second message was received in a much more positive mind set and the respondents were willing to take action.
At this time of reflective thought about giving, we should think about how we message our language. Careful consideration of the conservation message can bring many more into the fold. Several ideas are:
Talk about water first and foremost. This goes to the heart of sanctity – nothing is more important than clean water to drink. Ensuring reliable supplies of clean drinking water is essential. By protecting land around rivers, lakes and streams will keep pollution from the water and prevent it from contaminating our drinking water.
Make the connection with public health. Caring for the land is always viewed as beneficial to health.
Tell people Mother Nature keeps communities safe. Nature provides defenses against adverse flooding, drought and even wildfires.
Reinforce the idea that a strong economy and preserving land and water are highly compatible. In poll after poll, voters see no reason why we cannot have a strong economy and protect land and water. Some people with heightened economic anxiety will claim the opposite. An example to refute that claim is: East Germany had 100% employment, but their lives were severely compromised with pollution and depleted natural resources.
Protecting natural areas is a way of helping children spend more time outdoors and continue family traditions.
Talk about future generations.
Evoke a sense of moral responsibility for earth care.
A good general message is “All Americans have a shared responsibility to protect our natural world: to use only what we need, make smarter choices, and pass on to future generations the beauty, wildlife, water and nature resources, not only what we have today, but to make it better. Especially in light of a changing climate, we should invest in conservation to meet this responsibility.
Messaging for a religious or spiritual audience should only be given by trusted authority persons from the respective organization. “Our state’s beautiful natural resources are part of God’s creation, and we have a moral responsibility to take care of it”.
Take pride in the local sense of place.
Highlight the importance of diverse coalitions and collaborations.
Be optimistic about the future, especially with younger persons. There will a tremendous amount of climate related jobs developing in the future.
The importance of keeping smaller non-corporate working farms and forests on the land.
Highlight the recreational values of natural lands for hiking, biking, camping, fishing, hunting, viewing wildlife and rejuvenating the human spirit.
Highlight the importance of maintaining historically important lands and historic vistas.
Talk extensively about nature’s benefits and values.
Words carry hidden meanings that can turn some folks from active listeners to tone deaf by-standers.
Geminid meteor shower: The Geminids radiate from near the bright stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini the Twins. The Geminid meteor shower is one of the finest meteors showers visible in Wisconsin. In 2015, there is no moon to obscure this meteor shower. The meteors are plentiful, rivaling the August Perseids, with perhaps 50 to 100 meteors per hour visible at the peak. Plus Geminid meteors are often bright. These meteors are often about as good in the evening as in the hours between midnight and dawn. In 2015, the slender waxing crescent moon will set soon after the sun, providing a wonderful cover of darkness for the Geminid meteor shower. Your best bet is to watch on December 12-13 and 13-14, from mid-evening (9 to 10 p.m.) until dawn.
Chokeberry is a densely clumped shrub that grows in tamarack bogs and alder thickets. It produces a black berry-like fruit that can last into December. The berries are eaten by grouse.
Wintergreen is an evergreen very short shrub that thrives in dry soils of pine forest. Its berries are red and make a great contrast with the bright green leaves. The berries ripen in fall and persist through the winter.
The artist’s palate fungi can be seen attached to dead wood. These fungi are identified by their gray-brown shellacked appearance.
Mid-December through the first of January is the time for annual Christmas Bird Counts (CBC). Birders of all skills levels are encouraged to participate. Contact the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology for details regarding a CBC near you.
Words to Avoid
Good Words to Use
Land, air and water
Fish and wildlife
Land along rivers
Land around lakes
Working farms or forests
Poorly planned growth
Clean energy jobs
Nature's benefits or values
Large, connected natural areas