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A Storm Gathers for North American Birds | The Audubon Birds & Climate Change Report

25 Sep

I love to watch and photograph birds – the more I watch and photograph the more fascinated I become. Last summer a family of five kestrels (2 adults and three babies) spent a few weeks in my backyard. I watched the adults teach the youngsters how to fly and forage for food. They grew accustomed to me with my camera as the days went by. ( see Kestrels Came to visit here)

 © 2013 afroditi katsikis

©2013 afroditi katsikis … Click the photo to see my gallery of the kestrels

Not all the photos were beautiful photographs but still the ones I did not publish taught me more about them. I watched the fledglings climb up the shed walls to reach the rooftop to eat the insects (mostly spiders) that they found. Watching the youngsters play and practice quick turns and dives, was fascinating!

One day I heard the parents chattering  in the cottonwood tree. They were hard to see even with my long lens since the tree was leafed out wand, leaves and branches were in the way.  I had no idea what they were doing until I was previewing images on my computer. They were mating and were interrupted by another kestrel that  they shooed away!

After reading this article by Audubon (link to full article below) I was upset and depressed at the same time.  Why is this happening? Why has our government turned a blind eye to the devastation by the oil industry? They are partially to blame but we, as consumers of petroleum products, are also at fault. Please tread lightly on mother earth, share rides, ride a bike to the store, stop buying throw away plastic products, and recycle everything are just a few of the things we can do.

It’s also very important to tell our elected officials how we feel. The two best actions we can take is write a handwritten letter and call their offices. These days handwritten letters stand out amongst the typed letters and emails and add a personal touch while emails and typed letters could be produced in mass and may be difficult to ascertain if they are sent by the signers or not, while handwriting is unique to all of us.

You can find contact information for federal, state, local, or tribal governments and elected officials at:

Government Agencies and Elected Officials. You can contact  federal government agencies here  (ie., Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Council of Environmental Quality, Environmental Management (Energy Department), Environmental Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service, etc.)

If you want to contact a Member of Congress Who Does Not Represent You,  you can:

  • Send a message to the Representative or Senator that represents you, and ask his or her office to forward it for you.
  • Go to the website for the member of Congress you wish to contact to find a postal address and mail a letter.
  • Call the United States Capitol switchboard at 1-202-224-3121.  The switchboard operator will connect you with the office you request.


This is an excerpt of the article A Storm Gathers for North American Birds by Audubon:


“Western North Dakota is famous for its birds. The land here is checkered with neat squares of farm fields and native prairie overlying a scatter of pothole lakes, their curving shorelines shaped tens of thousands of years ago by chunks of melting glaciers. This rich landscape provides critical breeding grounds for millions of birds, from the that pour out of the so-called “duck factory” to the Bobolinks of the tallgrass prairie.


But the region is changing fast. Even as birds continue to flock here every summer, expanding agriculture has eaten away at their habitat, and since 2008 the area has witnessed an energy boom of global proportions. Today the fields, prairies, and badlands are punctuated with hundreds of rectangles of raw, orange dirt, each studded with its own set of trailers, storage tanks, and nodding pumpjacks. Every day, companies use hydraulic fracturing to extract nearly a million barrels of oil from the Bakken formation, a layer of shale that lies about two miles beneath the prairie. Roughly 8,000 wells are operating already, and an additional 40,000 could be drilled and fracked in the next 20 to 30 years. In line at one brand-new convenience store, a woman carrying a hardhat sums up the prevailing attitude: “Patience are for doctors.” In the Bakken, the time is now, and the future is a long way off.


Yet the Audubon Report, a groundbreaking new study by Audubon scientists, suggests that this place will become even more important for birds as the planet warms. For the 26 grassland bird species whose breeding ranges are projected to decrease dramatically by 2050, North Dakota will become an increasingly rare island of viable habitat and suitable climate conditions, one of their few remaining refuges. Protecting a portion of the region for birds could mean the difference between survival and extinction for some species.


That’s just one of the critical findings from Audubon’s seven-year investigation into the expected effects of climate change on North American bird populations. And taken together, the news is grim indeed. By 2080, the climate model projects, dozens of avian species across the country could be hurtling toward extinction—and not just birds that are already in trouble. Both the American Avocet and the Yellow-headed Blackbird, familiar sights in western North America, may be under threat before the end of the century. In the Great Plains, the Chestnut-collared Longspurs range could shrink by 70 percent, while suitable breeding grounds for the Baird’s Sparrow could disappear entirely. The Piping Plover, an icon of the Atlantic Flyway, may vanish from many eastern shores.”



Read the entire article here: A Storm Gathers for North American Birds | The Audubon Birds & Climate Change Report.


“It’s time to stop this madness” – Philippines plea at UN climate talks

14 Nov

“It’s time to stop this madness” – Philippines plea at UN climate talks

Yeb Sano tells UN summit in Warsaw “colossal devastation” from Typhoon Haiyan should serve as warning to planet


For the past several days I’ve been dumbfounded by the “Super Typhoon Haiyan”. When I read this speech by Yeb Sano I knew I had to share it. Haiyan makes me wonder what will happen next — where will the next super storm hit? How much worse will it be than this?  What more can I do?

But most of all I want to know why my government does not recognize that climate change is a major issue, an issue that affects the whole planet that should be addressed immediately. This is a world problem and America is still sitting on our hands. I have been against fracking, drilling for oil and the Keystone pipeline; I conserve everything and try to avoid buying items made with petroleum (plastic) and reuse every bit of plastic I consume. I try to avoid buying or using any plastic if if I can. I realize that what I do is worth less than a drop in a bucket but if we all avoided buying plastic it would have a bigger effect. I’ve contacted my elected officials repeatedly about fracking, drilling for oil, tarsands and the keystone pipeline and the responses I get via email are the usual canned responses. I’m stepping up my efforts to phone calls and try to get meetings with my elected officials. 

Philippines lead negotiator Yeb Sano has just addressed the opening session of the UN climate summit in Warsaw – calling for urgent action to prevent a repeat of the devastating storm that hit parts of his country at the weekend. A copy of the speech sent to RTCC by Sano is below.

Mr. President, I have the honor to speak on behalf of the resilient people of the Republic of the Philippines.

At the onset, allow me to fully associate my delegation with the statement made by the distinguished Ambassador of the Republic of Fiji, on behalf of G77 and China as well as the statement made by Nicaragua on behalf of the Like-Minded Developing Countries.

First and foremost, the people of the Philippines, and our delegation here for the United Nations Climate Change Convention’s 19th Conference of the Parties here in Warsaw, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your expression of sympathy to my country in the face of this national difficulty.

In the midst of this tragedy, the delegation of the Philippines is comforted by the warm hospitality of Poland, with your people offering us warm smiles everywhere we go. Hotel staff and people on the streets, volunteers and personnel within the National Stadium have warmly offered us kind words of sympathy. So, thank you Poland.

The arrangements you have made for this COP is also most excellent and we highly appreciate the tremendous effort you have put into the preparations for this important gathering.

We also thank all of you, friends and colleagues in this hall and from all corners of the world as you stand beside us in this difficult time. I thank all countries and governments who have extended your solidarity and for offering assistance to the Philippines. I thank the youth present here and the billions of young people around the world who stand steadfast behind my delegation and who are watching us shape their future. I thank civil society, both who are working on the ground as we race against time in the hardest hit areas, and those who are here in Warsaw prodding us to have a sense of urgency and ambition. We are deeply moved by this manifestation of human solidarity. This outpouring of support proves to us that as a human race, we can unite; that as a species, we care.

It was barely 11 months ago in Doha when my delegation appealed to the world… to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face… as then we confronted a catastrophic storm that resulted in the costliest disaster in Philippine history. Less than a year hence, we cannot imagine that a disaster much bigger would come. With an apparent cruel twist of fate, my country is being tested by this hellstorm called Super Typhoon Haiyan, which has been described by experts as the strongest typhoon that has ever made landfall in the course of recorded human history. It was so strong that if there was a Category 6, it would have fallen squarely in that box. Up to this hour, we remain uncertain as to the full extent of the devastation, as information trickles in in an agonizingly slow manner because electricity lines and communication lines have been cut off and may take a while before these are restored. The initial assessment show that Haiyan left a wake of massive devastation that is unprecedented, unthinkable and horrific, affecting 2/3 of the Philippines, with about half a million people now rendered homeless, and with scenes reminiscent of the aftermath of a tsunami, with a vast wasteland of mud and debris and dead bodies. According to satellite estimates, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also estimated that Haiyan achieved a minimum pressure between around 860 mbar (hPa; 25.34 inHg) and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimated Haiyan to have attained one-minute sustained winds of 315 km/h (195 mph) and gusts up to 378 km/h (235 mph) making it the strongest typhoon in modern recorded history. Despite the massive efforts that my country had exerted in preparing for the onslaught of this monster of a storm, it was just a force too powerful and even as a nation familiar with storms, Super Typhoon Haiyan was nothing we have ever experienced before, or perhaps nothing that any country has every experienced before.

The picture in the aftermath is ever so slowly coming into clearer focus. The devastation is colossal. And as if this is not enough, another storm is brewing again in the warm waters of the western Pacific. I shudder at the thought of another typhoon hitting the same places where people have not yet even managed to begin standing up. Continue reading

Guide to Tweetstorms

5 Jun

Author: Afroditi Katikis

Contributing Author: Holise Cleveland

copyright 2013 Afroditi Katsikis, Holise Cleveland, III

I’ve been participating in a lot of tweetstorm events over the last few weeks and have set some up as well. These events, like all events, in order to be successful, tweetstorms take some planning. In addition to finding people to participate there are things to decide. These include: the purpose of the tweetstorm, hashtag to use, date and time of the tweetstorm.


A tweetstorm is a twitter event where many people post on a topic using a designated hashtag which represents a specific topic at the same time in order to make the hashtag trend.


A hashtag is a word that has this character in front of a word: #


This is basically a way to quickly index a tweet and allows the tweeter to find all the tweets that use this hashtag.  Upon clicking on the hashtag either in the list of trending hashtags or in any tweet you see, will make the tweet display column load all the tweets using this hashtag. At the top of the column of tweets there are three choices. Top Tweets, All Tweets and Follower’s tweets.


A trending hashtag appears on the list of trending hashtags that appears on the left side of the screen. When a hashtag trends it means that very many people are tweeting the same hashtag. It does NOT include any retweets!


The first thing to decide is the purpose of the tweetstorm. What is it that you want people to learn? This will determine the appropriate hashtag to use.


It’s important not to select a hashtag that has been used before. If you use a hashtag that has been previously used you might make someone upset with you because you don’t really know the purpose that the originator uses it for. Is it a title of a blog or product, song, poem or book? Maybe it’s a hashtag to gather tweets for a or could it also be a hashtag that connects a group of people on twitter to a topic that is not the same or similar to the meaning you intended it be used for.


Search for it in Twitter and when nothing shows up then you are good to go.


Use a shortlink! With a shortlink it is easy to determine how many characters you have left to use in your tweets. If you use a long link you will not know how many characters are available for the tweet because twitter may shorten the link depending on the tools the tweeter has active on their own twitter account.

Keep in mind that many tweets can be made for the same link to be tweeted;  text should be different for each tweet to lure more people to read the link.

*       If a celebrity or professional (ie., Doctor, trainer, public official, actor, scientist,  musician, artist etc) is mentioned in a story it’s a good idea to try and use their quote in a tweet and their name.  Sometimes these quotes are too long to fit in a tweet so it may be paraphrased slightly.

*      If statistics are quoted, make a tweet with those statistics and add the source of those statistics.

*      If violations of current law are noted – use it.

*      One thing I’ve noticed in the tweetstorms is that many of the tweets are sentences or paraphrases of lines of text from the links.  If it’s an especially key point, it’s a good idea to use it.

*      Avoid using the same word twice in a tweet – each word is valuable real estate and should not be wasted.

The best way to make a sample tweet is to have the link open and select key sentences to use or paraphrase as close to the original text. Other times the tweet could be a question about a statement made in the story, a quote from the story, a true statement from a well-known professional such as an actor/actress, writer, poet, fashion model, author, journalist, politician, scientist, musician, teacher, painter, theologist, archealogist, politician, lobbyist, engineer, government agency. You never know what tweple will will search for and I believe that some there will be more people searching for a famous name than from and unknown name.

This is a good tool to use when making sample tweets:


 Only tweets and NOT retweets will make a hashtag trend! This can be overcome by using Tweetdeck in a twitterstorm. You can easily edit a tweet you selected to retweet and change the RT to something else it all depends on the length of the tweet.  If there’s not much room try adding: OMG, via ,Yes, I know, Ur right, True, TY, and anything else you can that comes to mind that is the appropriate. Learn to use before the tweetstorm.

In order to prevent tweple from retweeting, it may be a good idea to make tweets that use up all or most 140 characters as these will not be easily retweeted by anyone using twitter. If you are using Tweetdeck (see below), there is a way to retweet them, sort of.

One drawback is that after the tweetstorm, those who are using Twitter won’t be able to RT them easily by clicking a button. I suggest some samples tweets that are less that 140 characters be made so after the tweetstorm people will RT them easily by using twitter.

***Please watch out for extra spaces between words. With only 140 characters to use, each character is a valuable commodity in twitter and should not be wasted on extra spaces.



Tweetdeck is a great tool to use in a tweetstorm and I strongly recommend  using it providing you learn it before the tweetstorm take place.  There are several advantages for using this ‘tool’ in a tweetstorm.

A really nice feature is it lets you schedule some tweets ahead of time. When you click on the icon to write a tweet, there’s a clock icon along the bottom of the window. When you click the clock icon, a calendar opens up and you can input the day and time you want the tweet to post. This is very handy if your internet connection gets slow because the program will have your tweet and post it at the day and time you selected. Nothing is more frustrating than being in a tweetstorm and your computer hangs up. Tweets should be schedule 2-3 minutes apart.

You must have your computer on and a window with this page loaded – but you can walk away and do something else while the tweetstorm is on. If you have a smart phone, load it on to your phone and that way you won’t have to be at home and on your computer.

Another excellent feature is you can edit a retweet (and remember RT’s don’t count towards trending) and remove the RT!  You can substitute it with somethinge else like via, TY, OMG or other small words to fit the space available.  If you see a tweet that you can’t retweet because retweeting it will make it larger than the 140 character limit, you can edit that tweet to fit. In a tweetstorm it’s handy so you won’t have to copy/paste a tweet which for some is time consuming.

More about TWEETSTORMS coming soon …..

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