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American Bird Populations Flying Low

17Do you enjoy seeing majestic blue herons at the pond, or hearing the calls of meadowlarks in the morning? Well enjoy it while you can. According to several recent studies, there is an “alarming decline of many of our most common and beloved birds”.

A report by the National Audubon Society, for example, finds that “the average population of common birds in steepest decline has fallen by 68%” since 1967, while some species declined by as much as 80%. Similarly, a study by Partners in Flight reveals that approximately 17% of North American land bird species (148 of 882 species) face rapid declines. Affected species include the field sparrow, boreal chickadee, rufous hummingbird, eastern meadowlark, little blue heron, and cerulean warbler.

Mickaboo Companion Bird Rescue

Accounting for this decline are several factors, led by habitat loss. In some places, such as California, up to 99% of streamside habitat and 95% of wetlands have disappeared, a trend which is expected to continue given development and climate change. Cat predation is another major cause of bird mortality, responsible for over a billion bird deaths per year. A further six million+ birds die annually from collisions with skyscrapers, homes, or communications towers. And a minority of birds, estimated at 440,000 per year, die from the blades of wind turbines.

To counter these causes, bird conservation groups are calling for the development of a “network of protected areas” for bird populations, as well as “sustainable agriculture, forestry, and urban planning practices”. They are lobbying for regulations to prevent wind turbine construction in migration routes and wildlife areas; and to replace solid red lights (which attract birds) with flashing strobe lights on towers. Finally, they are mounting a campaign to encourage cat owners to leave their pets indoors.

Volunteer for HawkTalk.org

Interested in learning more about the fate of American birds? Check out National Geographic Daily News…

 

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Op4G's Non-Profit of the Month: Transformations Autism Treatment Center!

Transformations Autism Treatment Center – it is your lucky month! Thanks to your supporter Elizabeth Dowling-Cloud, you have been selected as Op4G’s Non-Profit of the Month for August.

Autism is a neurological development disability that generally appears before the age of 3. It is frequently characterized by a range of behaviors that include difficulty communicating, performing self-care tasks, and interacting with others. It is believed to affect approximately 1 in 88, at a lifetime cost of $3.5-5.5 million.

Given these effects and costs, the Transformations Autism Treatment Center works to provide services and support to individuals affected by autism, helping them reach their full potential. This includes the provision of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, today’s leading treatment for autism. Furthermore, Transformations offers education to parents of autistic children and arranges home staff, if required.

To date, Transformations’ supporters have raised $70 for the non-profit through Op4G. Please help them raise more! Complete surveys on behalf of our “non-profit of the month” or donate here!

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Did you know September 8th is National Grandparents Day?

Grandparents Day is Around the CornerWell according to a national survey… grandparents don’t want the day to go unnoticed.  In August, “three specialty brands serving the 50+ consumer, Haband®, Gold Violin®, and Solutions®, (part of the Orchard Brands family of brands) went straight to the source to learn how grandparents perceive and celebrate the national holiday that is dedicated to them”.  Find out more about what grandparents are thinking as this special day approaches by reviewing the full press release here.  You may be surprised.

About Haband®, Gold Violin® and Solutions®. Haband, Gold Violin and Solutions are part of the Orchard Brands family of brands, dedicated to serving active lifestyles of the 50+ market. From Haband’s wide selection of apparel and lifestyle products with a homespun feel, to Gold Violin’s unique items and gifts for independent living at any age, to Solutions’ expertise in “products that make life easier®” for home living, storage, organization and more, these distinctive brands offer something for mature adults, active retirees, boomers and seniors alike.

The survey was conducted by Op4G (Opinions 4 Good), a leading online market research panel. The survey was conducted on Aug 14 -19, 2013. Survey respondents were grandparents ages 55 years and above. The sample size was n=500 with a margin of error of 4%.

 

Flickr Creative Commons image credit: dennisfones

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Lupus Foundation of America DC/MD/VA – $4,265 in 14 Days!

congrats to Lupus Foundation DC/MD/VAWow! Congratulations to the Lupus Foundation of America (DC/MD/VA Chapter).  During one our recent Health Related survey projects, 193 thoughtful members of their organization agreed to complete two (30 minute) surveys for us.  The result was an earned-donation of $4,265, paid out to their Chapter this week. Most of the 193 survey volunteers elected to donate 100% of their earnings back to their Non-Profit. We send our thanks to this great group of people who took the time to complete our online surveys.

“Op4G was a pleasure to work with.  They communicated well throughout the process and provided an easy, safe and secure way to collect data from our supporters that will help with lupus research that directly impacts our patients.  All proceeds raised from the study will directly impact the FREE support and services we provide to those living with lupus in DC, MD and VA”, said Brian Wachtel, Director of Events, Lupus Foundation of America, DC / MD / VA Chapter.

We value the partnership we have with all of our 380+ Non-Profit organizations, as well as this unique model for “giving back”. One of the challenges we face when communicating our free donation service to Non-Profits is overcoming the “what’s the catch?” obstacle.  That’s understandable, and also easy to counter with achievements like this.

We invite you to join us by signing up your Non-Profit or becoming a member today.

Flickr Photo Credit: nshuddha

 

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Op4G Expands to Canada

PRESS RELEASE – August 22, 2013: Opinions 4 Good (Op4G),  the leading cause-based sampling and data collection company, today announced the launch of its Canada Panel as part of the on-going North American expansion.

The initiative to further broaden Op4G’s philanthropic panel capabilities follows the success of the company’s US panel which was launched in 2010. The scope of the recruitment of members and non-profit partners range from British Columbia to Nova Scotia.

“With an increased demand for Canadian sample that is of the highest quality, Op4G is well positioned to raise greater funds than ever for North American charities. Additionally, better targeting will allow our members and non-profits high survey completion success”, states Frank Nappo, CEO of Op4G.

About Op4G: 
Op4G provides client access to a unique database of highly qualified leaders and engaged members who participate in internet-based research for the opportunity to earn funds for themselves and/or to donate up to 100% of their earnings directly to one of our partnering charities. Since beginning client delivery in June 2010, our clients’ incentive funds have allowed our panel members to redirect over $330,000 to our growing number of non-profits.

Panel member trust is the key to our quality data. Each element of Op4G is designed to fiercely protect our Members’ privacy. Every activity is opt-in, every survey participant is anonymous, and every member is in full control of their secure information.

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Beach-lovers: Beware of your Local Beach!

23If you’re one of the millions of Americans who planned a trip to the beach this summer, beware: your beach might not be as clean as you think! According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the number of US beach closing and swim advisories exceeded 20,000 in 2012—marking the eighth time in the last nine years.

Closings and advisories arise when over 10% of samples surpass EPA standards for bacteria limits. But where do the bacteria come from? Storm water runoff is the main culprit, allowing “our urban slobber [to run] untreated in our waterways”. Sewage spills and overflows, full of human waste, are also to blame.

Contact with such contaminated water carries significant risk, particularly for children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with weak immune systems. Effects can include ear, nose, and eye infections; diarrhea; vomiting; hepatitis; encephalitis; skin rashes; and respiratory illnesses”.

Support Our Partner

Fortunately, many environmental non-profits are working to ensure that “the public has the information they need to protect the health of surfers and swimmers”. The NRDC, for example, conducts an annual survey of more than 3,000 fresh and saltwater beaches in the United States. It also “rates 200 of the most popular beaches on a 5 star scale”, awarding 5 stars to just 13 beaches in 2012.

Additionally, the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international network of environmental organizations, has created a free smart-phone application that provides the latest water-quality ratings. Called “the Swim Guide”, it also uses color coding to “designate the cleanest and safest beaches” across the United States.

Certainly, both tools can help protect the public from unhealthy beaches. But why not solve the root problem? Among other efforts, homeowners can capture and re-use stormwater and install green infrastructure (e.g. green roofs and permeable pavement) on their properties. Beachgoers can pick up pet waste and keep swim diapers on babies. Furthermore, the public can report risks to waterways and lobby the government for higher water quality standards.

To learn more about what you can do, and the water quality at your local beach, visit: The NRDC and The Swim Guide. Also, please support our partner, the Ocean River Institute, which helps protect our waterways.

Flickr photo credit: Daniel Piraino

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Honeybees in Peril: “Their Crisis is our Crisis”

beesIt is easy to vilify bees – they sting, annoy, and lack the beauty of butterflies and ladybugs. But the tiny insects are, in fact, critical to our survival. By travelling from plant to plant, they pollinate 40% of our food. They are also prey for birds and, thus, a key component of the food chain. For these reasons, ecologists say “our very lives depend on bees”.

Unfortunately, bee populations in the United States (as well as in many other regions) have endured a precipitous decline in recent years. According to the documentary “Queen of the Sun”, the US has lost about 5 million colonies of bees, each with 20,000 to 60,000 honeybees. In 2006 alone, the US lost approximately 50% of its bee colonies. This phenomenon is aptly called “colony collapse disorder” (CCD).

While the exact cause of CCD remains unknown, many theories exist. In the United States, a leading theory is the transportation of bees to central California to pollinate massive almond farms. The trip, occurring every February, not only inflicts great stress on bees. It also causes a mixing of 3/4 of American bees, enabling the spread the viruses. Furthermore, when the almond blossoms disappear after several weeks, the bees are left without a food source due to the absence of other crops (known as “monoculture”).

A further theory is the rise of mites. Tracheal mites burrow into bees’ windpipes, while varroa mites destroy bees’ reproductive systems. Pesticides, ironically, exacerbate the problem. In addition to creating stronger breeds of mites, pesticides like Neonicotinoids contain neurotoxins, affecting bees’ ability to navigate back to their hives.

The artificial insemination of queen bees is yet another theory. The practice replaces the natural “marriage flight” of bees, during which the queen bee flies high into the air. Only the strongest and fittest drones reach and impregnate the queen, ensuring the strongest offspring.

Finally, many experts have blamed the increase in genetically modified organisms. Besides foreign genes, many of these organisms contain antibiotic markers and bio-toxins, which transfer to bees via pollen. The antibiotics attack the “healthy bacteria” in bees, used to create honey and bee pollen (their food), and the biotoxins weaken or kill bees.

Given these potential causes, what steps can society take to save the precious honeybee? Farmers can engage in biodynamic farming (farming more than one crop) and refrain from using pesticides and GMO seeds. Beekeepers can cease migratory beekeeping and the artificial insemination of queen bees. Moreover, society can respect bees and their habitats, as well as pass protective policies. In other words, let nature be!

Don’t ignore this “canary in the coal mine”. Help protect bees today! To learn more, watch “Queen of the Sun” (available on Netflix).


August 17th is National Honey Bee Day.  If you’re in the Los Angeles area, celebrate with the Non-Profit HoneyLove and their 2:00 PM Flash Mob at the 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica.

Flickr photo credit: Universal Pops

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One Brick of Chicago – The Op4G $500 Monthly Sweepstakes Winner

333There is good news for One Brick’s Chicago chapter! The Op4G partner was selected as our $500 sweepstakes winner for July!

One Brick is a non-profit organization that matches volunteers with volunteer opportunities in their community. Unlike similar organizations, however, the non-profit requires no long-term commitment. Moreover, it arranges fun social events following each volunteer activity. The goal is to enable volunteers to meet like-minded individuals in a relaxed social setting.

This model has proved incredibly successful. It has led thousands of volunteers to donate 50,000 hours to over 1,600 non-profits. It has also led to the establishment of 11 chapters across America – from San Francisco to Boston.

One Brick’s $500 prize brings their Op4G earnings to over $30,500. Congratulations again to One Brick!

Flickr photo credit: Joriel Jiminez

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Tukwila Children's Foundation – A Small Non-Profit Doing Big Things

7Op4G is delighted to announce our Non-Profit of the Month: the Tukwila Children’s Foundation!

Created by a group of local citizens in 2002, the Tukwila Children’s Foundation aims to meet the unmet daily needs of the children of Tukwila, Washington. These needs include clothing, school supplies, scholarships, personal hygiene items, and miscellaneous goods (such as alarms clocks). The goal is to ensure that all of Tukwila’s children will have the experiences, opportunities, and tools to succeed; grow to care about themselves and others; and become involved in their communities.

To learn more about the Tukwila Children’s Foundation and how you can support them, please visit their site or sign up with Op4G.

Flickr photo credit: Jeffrey Pott

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You think YOU Live Green? Check out the Earthship Home!

earthshipIn North America, there are many ways to “live green” – you can compost, recycle, install compact fluorescent lights. But perhaps the ultimate in green living is the “Earthship”. Designed by Earthship Biotecture in New Mexico, Earthships are the “epitome of sustainable design and construction”. They are typically off-the-grid and leverage available local resources.

To elaborate, Earthships are homes made from natural/recycled materials and powered by solar or wind energy. External walls are often built from earth-filled tires and internal walls from recycled cans joined by concrete. To regulate the temperature, Earthship walls are thickly plastered and roofs are heavily insulated. Windows along sun-facing walls maximize solar heat (and light), while natural ventilation and contact with the earth assist with cooling.

For water, earthships collect rooftop water and pass it to a cistern for filtration. Once clean, the water is pumped throughout the house—except to toilets, which are filled with “greywater”. Greywater is produced by passing used water (from the shower and sink) through a botanical cell. Composed of plants and gravel, the cell can also be used for food production. Water from toilets is sent to solar-enhanced septic tanks.

This design contributes to a remarkable zero carbon footprint. During construction, the transportation and use of local materials produces low carbon emissions. However, the emissions are offset by the use of recycled materials (45% of the home). These materials have a negative carbon footprint because they eliminate the need for waste processing and the production of new materials. Furthermore, by using renewable energy and heating/cooling without fuel, the home’s operation produces no emissions. This zero carbon footprint compares to CO2 emissions of 110 tons/year for the average American household. Combined, emissions from homes account for 17% of total US greenhouse gas emissions.

So what is the catch – high costs, rigid building parameters, lengthy construction periods? In fact, “Earthships cost about the same as a conventional home”. The Global Model, for example, costs approximately $225 per square foot, with construction drawings ranging from $5,000 – $10,000. These costs drop by almost 40% when the owners build the home themselves. Furthermore, the Global Model can be customized for almost any climate and size, and can be built by the Earthship crew in only one month.

Want an Earthship – or inspiration for your own home? Visit: www.earthship.com.

Flickr photo credit: RONg