BLOG: 5 Tips for Giving Back During the Holiday Season

Operation USA - November 21, 2014

The holiday season is a busy time, especially for your favorite charitable organizations. Data shows that, on average, organizations receive up to 40% of their yearly donations in the last three months of the year–and that money is vital to planning for the new year. Operation USA counts more donations during the last 2-3 months of the year than any other non-disaster time, and we rely on the generosity of our supporters during the holiday season to plan for programs in the year ahead. So, how can you make sure you are making the most of your charitable gifts this year? Read on for some helpful tips.

When you make a tax-deductible donation before the end of the calendar year, you’ll receive tax benefits on your next return. Plan ahead and add making a charitable donation to your “to do” list so you don’t forget. This year, #GivingTuesday, a national giving movement being celebrated for the third year in a row, is Tuesday, December 2nd. Join the campaign and help support your favorite causes by making a donation or sharing your voice in social media.

With so many different causes and campaigns to choose from, making a meaningful impact during the holiday season can seem challenging. Fortunately, there are resources available to help with decision making. First, research specific causes that are important to you to identify specific organizations you may want to help. Then, use sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar, as well as the organization’s public financial documents, to confirm the validity of the organization. Typically, groups that have low overhead and well-documented program success can be trusted to make the most of your donation.

Have a lot of names on your holiday shopping list? Some people can be tricky to buy for, but a charitable gift in a loved one’s name is a great way to support their passions while making a difference. Most organizations encourage donating on someone else’s behalf during the holiday season. At OpUSA, we’ll even send out holiday cards or e-cards to your loved ones to let them know that you made a donation in their name. You can also add “make a donation in my name” to your own wish list so loved ones can donate on your behalf.

Cash donations, while important to charitable organizations, are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to supporting a cause you care about. If you want to give back but don’t have a big budget you can donate air miles–which allow organizations like Operation USA to travel to program areas while keeping overhead low–or material supplies. Many organizations also accept donations through shopping programs like We-Care.com and AmazonSmile, which allow you to earn donations for your favorite causes while you shop, or Causora, which lets donors earn rewards with each donation.

While the spirit of the holiday season tends to encourage us to give more at the end of the year, organizations have to stretch those dollars throughout the year ahead in order to expand programs and continue to thrive. Consider making your holiday season donation a year-long commitment and sign up to be a recurring donor. At OpUSA, you can easily opt to make your donation a monthly gift, which ensures that you’ll give a little at a time throughout the year in support of ongoing programs.

Remember, your year-end charitable gift makes a lasting and meaningful impact on the organization’s work in the year ahead! Learn about even more ways to support Operation USA this holiday season HERE.

Categories: Environment

U.S. Can Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions 80 Percent by 2050, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - November 21, 2014
The United States can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, using existing or near-commercial technologies, according to researchers with the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project. The study analyzed scenarios with four types of decarbonized electricity: renewable energy, nuclear energy, fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage, and a mixed case. The scenarios achieved reductions of 83 percent below 2005 levels and 80 percent below 1990 levels, according to the study, which was released ahead of next month’s climate talks in Lima, Peru, and negotiations in Paris in December 2015. The energy efficiency of buildings, transportation, and industry would need to increase through the use of smart materials and energy-efficient designs, and vehicles will need to be fueled with electricity generated from wind, solar, or nuclear, as opposed to coal, the researchers said. They project the net costs would be on the order of 1 percent of gross domestic product per year. The 80-percent reduction by 2050 is a long-standing goal of the Obama administration, in line with global commitments to limit warming to less than 2 degrees C.
Categories: Environment, Health

This is a test

Operation USA - November 21, 2014


Categories: Environment

Living With the Aftermath of the BP Oil Spill

The EnvironmentaList - November 21, 2014
In Review: The Great Invisible (Documentary)
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Real-Time Ocean Acidification Data Now Available for U.S. Pacific Coast

Yale Environment 360 - November 20, 2014
Researchers, coastal managers, and shellfish farmers along the U.S. Pacific coast can now get real-time ocean


Web portal for ocean acidification data acidification data through an online tool developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The data — which includes measurements of pH, carbon dioxide concentrations, salinity, and water temperatures at various sites — should help organizations and businesses make decisions about managing coastal resources and craft adaptation strategies, NOAA researchers say. The tool will feature data from five shellfish hatchery sites along the Pacific coast along with readings from NOAA’s ocean acidification monitoring sites. Ocean acidification is driven primarily by absorption of atmospheric CO2 by ocean waters, which changes seawater chemistry in a way that makes it difficult for many marine organisms to form their shells.
Categories: Environment, Health

In Romania, Highway Boom Poses Looming Threat to Bears

Yale Environment 360 - November 20, 2014
Romania, one of Europe’s poorest nations, badly needs a modern highway system. But conservationists warn that unless the movements of wildlife are accommodated, a planned boom in road construction could threaten one of the continent’s last large brown bear populations. BY ALASTAIR BLAND
Categories: Environment, Health

Efforts to Curb Destructive Palm Oil Plantations Brings Together Strange Bedfellows

The EnvironmentaList - November 20, 2014
Will corporations and activists join forces to end deforestation in Indonesia?
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Girl Scouts Joins Intel on Capitol Hill to Reduce the Tech Gender Gap

Girl Scouts of America - November 19, 2014
Building on the release last week of a new Intel report that found “Making” can engage girls in computer science and engineering, Girl Scouts was proud to participate at a bipartisan Capitol Hill briefing focused on broadening the participation of girls and underrepresented minorities in the Maker Movement.

Emily Sullivan, a 16-year old Girl Scout from Nation’s Capital, shared her personal experiences with STEM and Maker activities, and how much Girl Scouts has enabled her interests.  While she was in middle school, Emily shared ideas about modifying the wheelchair for a friend with physical disabilities, intending to make it easier for her friend to participate in school activities. More recently, Emily spoke about how she enjoys attending the Advanced Space Academy camp over summer in Huntsville, Alabama with the Girl Scouts Destination program, where activities included electrolysis, creating ablative shields, filtration, and rocketry.  Emily emphasized that every girl in her Troop is a maker and that Girl Scouts encourages girls to be “makers” with the variety of activities and badges they complete.

Suzanne Harper, Chief Girl Experience Innovator at Girl Scouts of the USA, spoke on the panel about the results of a pilot program conducted with five Girl Scout councils.  In partnership with the Maker Education Initiative with support from Intel, the five councils recruited two young women to be Maker Corps Members.  Those young women helped 4th and 5th graders do Maker projects at summer camp.  Suzanne also shared an example from Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana , which has created MakerPlace, a dedicated STEM lab located at the Girl Scouts Louisville headquarters.  The council has partnered with the Kentucky Science Center, who provides expert volunteers and through this partnership, more than 200 youth have attended Maker workshops in the past year.
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) spoke about legislation she has introduced with the Girl Scouts to engage more girls and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, and her support for Girl Scouts as co-chair of Troop Capitol Hill.  Congressmen Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Mark Takano (D-CA) who co-chair the Maker Caucus made remarks and the other panelists included Dr. Renne Wittemyer, Director of Social Innovation from Intel; Kylie Peplar, Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences & Director of The Creativity Labs at Indiana University Bloomington;  and Maura Marx, Deputy Director of Library Services, IMLS.
The Intel recent report, MakeHers: EngagingGirls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating, and Inventing, showed that girls enjoy do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and if they are engaged with making, designing, and creating things with electronic tools they will develop a stronger interest in STEM education.  Anna Maria Chávez, CEO for Girl Scouts of the USA, provided a foreword to the report.  
Categories: Environment

Global Shipping Traffic Has Grown by 300 Percent Since 1992, Study Says

Yale Environment 360 - November 19, 2014
Maritime traffic has increased four-fold over the past 20 years, causing more water, air, and noise pollution in

Maritime shipping traffic has increased rapidly. the world's oceans and seas, according to a new study quantifying global shipping traffic. Traffic went up in every ocean during the 20 years of the study, except off the coast of Somalia, where piracy has almost completely halted commercial shipping since 2006. In the Indian Ocean, where the world’s busiest shipping lanes are located, ship traffic grew by more than 300 percent over the 20-year period, according to the report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Burgeoning ship traffic has increased the amount air pollution, particularly above the Sri Lanka-Sumatra-China shipping lane, where researchers recorded a 50-percent increase in nitrogen dioxide, a common air pollutant, over the 20-year period. Shipping is also a major source of noise pollution, which can be harmful to marine mammals, the authors note.
Categories: Environment, Health

Pesticide Exposure Linked to Depression Among Ag Workers, Says Report

The EnvironmentaList - November 19, 2014
It is not clear if farmer suicides are linked to pesticide use, says coauthor of study that’s being cited in news reports connecting the two
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Social Media Can Help Track Severity of Air Pollution, Researchers Say

Yale Environment 360 - November 18, 2014
Social media posts can help researchers estimate air pollution levels with significant accuracy, according to a team of computer scientists from the University of Wisconsin. The researchers analyzed posts on Weibo — a Twitter-like site that is China's most popular social media outlet — from 108 Chinese cities over 30 days, tracking how often people complained about the air and the words they used to describe air quality. The study showed that the process can provide accurate, real-time information on the air quality index, a widely used measure of common air pollutants. Large Chinese cities sometimes have physical monitoring stations to gauge pollution levels, but smaller cities generally do not because monitors are expensive to install and maintain. The researchers hope these findings will help residents of smaller towns and less affluent areas understand the severity of their local air pollution. Between 350,000 and 500,000 Chinese citizens die prematurely each year because of air pollution, a former Chinese health minister estimated in the journal The Lancet.
Categories: Environment, Health

Top PR Firm Advises TransCanada to Target Greens Opposed to Its Latest Pipeline Project

The EnvironmentaList - November 17, 2014
Leaked documents indicate that the Canadian oil transport company is desperate to build public support for its alternative to Keystone XL
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Old-Growth Forest in China Disappearing Despite Protections, Study Finds

Yale Environment 360 - November 17, 2014
China’s anti-logging, conservation, and ecotourism policies are actually accelerating the loss of old-growth forests

Deforestation in China's Yunnan Province. in one of the country's most ecologically diverse regions, according to a study published in the journal Biological Conservation. Researchers used satellite imagery and statistical analysis to evaluate forest conservation strategies in northwestern Yunnan Province, in southern China. The results show that a logging ban increased total forest cover but accelerated old-growth logging in ancient protected areas known as sacred forests. For centuries, sacred forests have effectively protected old-growth trees from clear-cutting, despite major upheavals in the region’s history. Recent environmental protection policies, however, have shifted management of these areas away from native communities to government agencies — apparently to the forests' detriment, the study shows.
Categories: Environment, Health

Fast-Warming Gulf of MaineOffers Hint of Future for Oceans

Yale Environment 360 - November 17, 2014
The waters off the coast of New England are warming more rapidly than almost any other ocean region on earth. Scientists are now studying the resulting ecosystem changes, and their findings could provide a glimpse of the future for many of the world’s coastal communities. BY REBECCA KESSLER
Categories: Environment, Health

No Time to Spare

The EnvironmentaList - November 17, 2014
In Review: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

New Material Can Trap Powerful Greenhouse Gases Efficiently, Researchers Say

Yale Environment 360 - November 14, 2014
Scientists from the U.S. and Taiwan have developed a new type of lightweight, self-assembling molecule that can capture large amounts of potent greenhouse gases,

This porous material traps greenhouse gases. according to a report in Nature Communications. The molecules create a lightweight structure with many microscopic pores that can adsorb gases such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Those long-lived compounds, once widely used as refrigerants, were phased out because they damage the ozone layer, but they are still used in various industrial processes. The newly developed material is rich in the element fluorine, which helps it bind CFCs and various other hydro- and fluorocarbon gases very efficiently — to the tune of 75 percent by weight, the chemists say. Although they are less prevalent, the greenhouse effect of those gases can be hundreds- or thousands-fold more powerful than carbon dioxide, the researchers note. Heavier, metal-based materials with similar capabilities have been developed in previous studies, but these were sensitive to water and difficult to process and recycle.
Categories: Environment, Health

Net Gain: Fighting Ocean Pollution

The EnvironmentaList - November 14, 2014
Three American entrepreneurs fight ocean plastic pollution by upcycling discarded fishing nets into skateboards
Categories: Environment, News Feeds

Making Her Future: Girls and Women and the “Maker” Movement

Girl Scouts of America - November 13, 2014
Today Intel released a new report entitled, MakeHers: Engaging Girls and Women in Technology through Making, Creating and Inventing, which indicates that girls and women involved with “making,” designing and creating things with electronic tools may build stronger interest and skills in computer science and engineering. The report assesses the role of girls and women in the “maker movement”, a growing wave of tech-inspired, do-it-yourself innovation.

Created in consultation with experts including the Girl Scouts and Maker Education, the report aims to increase access to and interest in computer science and engineering, especially among girls and women and underrepresented minorities, where there remains a significant gap. The study’s findings are based on data from surveys in the US, China and Mexico of “makers”, parents and youth; participant observation and interviews with leading experts on Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), gender, learning sciences, and the maker movement.

Girl Scouts of the USA cares deeply about the potential of girls and young women to make the world a better place. With their new report, Making Her Future: Girls and Women and the ”Maker” Movement as a Gateway to STEM, Intel is demonstrating how the Maker Movement has helped turn a generation of tech-savvy girls, nearly all of whom grew up in the digital age, into the leaders and entrepreneurs of the economy of tomorrow. 
Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chávez voices her support for introducing girls to, and encouraging girls in, the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in the foreword of the Intel report:
“Our mission has always been to ensure girls are equipped with the tools, skills, and experiences that will enable them to go out into the world and make it a better place. At Girl Scouts, we are excited about the prospect of turning today’s girls into tomorrow’s makers—and leaders in the ever-diverse and endlessly expanding world of STEM.”
The 2012 report by the Girl Scout Research Institute, Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math found that an impressive 74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM fields, and 88 percent of girls want to make a difference in the world. Girls like being creative, asking questions about the world, and solving problems.
To get more girls engaged and involved in STEM activities, girls need more out-of-school opportunities to develop their skills and become confident in these subjects. Unfortunately, too few girls have these opportunities. Generation STEM found that only 27 percent of girlshave participated in STEM activities outside of school. The good news is that Girl Scouts offers girls important opportunities to explore the fascinating and fun world of STEM for themselves. Whether they're discovering how a car's engine runs, how to manage finances, or how coding can address some of the world’s most pressing problems, girls are fast-forwarding into the future through Girl Scouts. 
Categories: Environment

New Global Maps Detail Seasonal and Geographic Trends in Ocean Acidification

Yale Environment 360 - November 13, 2014
A team of scientists has published the most comprehensive analysis yet of how acidity levels vary across the world’s oceans. Drawing on four decades of


Taro Takahashi Ocean acidification map measurements, researchers from Columbia University and the University of Colorado mapped changes in ocean acidity by season and location, as well as how acidity levels affect the stability of shell-building minerals. The maps reveal that the northern Indian Ocean is at least 10 percent more acidic than the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, possibly due to its unique geography, the researchers say. The maps also show that ocean acidity fluctuates most in the colder waters off Siberia, Alaska, Antarctica, and the Pacific Northwest, due to cycles of deep-water upwelling and massive plankton blooms. The oceans have taken up a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans have put in the atmosphere over the last two hundred years, and acid levels at the surface have increased by 30 percent since the beginning of the industrial era, researchers say.
Categories: Environment, Health

Interview: Bringing Civility and Diversity to Conservation Debate

Yale Environment 360 - November 13, 2014
For the past few years, an acrimonious debate has been ranging between two camps of conservationists. One faction Jane Lubchenco advocates protecting nature for its intrinsic value. The other claims that if the degradation of the natural world is to be halted, nature’s fundamental value — what nature can do for us — needs to be stressed. The tone of the rhetoric has led to a petition, published this month in the journal Nature, that criticizes both sides for indulging in ad hominem attacks and unproductive arguments that have devolved into “increasingly vitriolic, personal battles.” In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Jane Lubchenco, former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, explains why she and her co-signatories are calling for a more “inclusive conservation” and why the bickering needs to stop.
Read more.
Categories: Environment, Health
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