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Wednesday, July 21, 2010 03:36 pm

Twitter - For the birds.

No, really, it’s for the birds.

For months, my smart phone-, Mp3-, cable-less self was reluctant to join, even explore the world of Twitter. Constant updates on Lindsay Lohan’s latest faux pas? No, thanks. I only signed up for the service in January as a way to keep track of some politicos in the statehouse while I was working there for another publication. But somewhere in my new follower frenzy I found a few treasures that speak to my environment/science/how-things-work/politics tastes. So, here are a few of my favorites:

As the BP oil spill crisis dragged on, I received play-by-play Twitter updates – ripe with shocking facts, humor and sarcasm – from Kate Sheppard, a Mother Jones reporter. Somehow, in 140 characters or less (usually much less), she relayed some of the most dramatic episodes happening in the Gulf and back in the nation’s capitol. Using Twitter, she complemented her regular full-length coverage of incidents including BP-tied Sherriff”s deputies barring journalists from tainted beaches and lawmakers calling oil spill hearings unwarranted “shake-downs.” Oy. (Of course, to lighten up the mood on the oil spill front, the infamous BPglobalPR is also a must-follow.) 

But I have to credit Grist, an environmental news and commentary website, with leading me to Sheppard. (Retweets rock! Er, I mean, they’re helpful sometimes.) Grist’s latest stories have included a feature about a “conservation community” in Illinois and an audio recording about the “population bomb.”

Another favorite of mine, the Society of Environmental Journalists, can be great. It can also be really annoying. It posts links to great environment news stories from across the U.S., but it also posts about 30 at a time. Overload! 

For the official word on environment and science, I’ve started following several government agencies. (And then when I visited Washington, D.C., for the first time earlier this summer, I got just as excited to walk past an event I’d seen promoted on Twitter as I did about seeing the monuments. Sorry, Abe!). A quick run-down with a sample tweet for each:

Greenversations, the Twitter account for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's official blog

Science Wednesday: Growing Green Minds: Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Prev... http://bit.ly/aBShLr

EPAowow, the Twitter account for the USEPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds

Ways to Take Action: Let native vegetation grow by the lake—mow and fertilize less! #lakesmonth

EPAresearch

EPA Science Advisory Board panel holding public meeting 7/20-7/22 on the impacts of Mountaintop Mining http://bit.ly/aPL8dh

USDAgov, Twitter account for the United States Department of Agriculture

USDA Blog: Endangered Birds Benefit from Wetlands Reserve Program http://bit.ly/a8vsux

• National_Ag_Lib, the National Agriculture Library's account

Have kids ages 8-13? Have them check out the recently redesigned Sci4Kids website: http://bit.ly/sci4kids (via @ARSInformation)

 • USoceangov, for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Ocean Service

Learn about sea turtle conservation via NOAA's latest online game, "Waterlife: Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest": http://go.usa.gov/OVa

• USGS, for the United States Geological Survey

It's National Pollinator Week! Get the Buzz: http://bit.ly/cZ5Wuh

A few others: 

Nature_org, for the Nature Conservancy

Boeing reveals its new hydrogen-powered plane the Phantom Eye! (via @BBCnews) http://nature.ly/a9jrCV

NSF, Twitter account of the National Science Foundation

News: Indian Ocean Sea-Level Rise Threatens Coastal Areas: Indian Ocean sea levels are rising unevenly and threate... http://bit.ly/cJsde1

 And, like I said, for the birds:

Audubonsociety

Creating new wetlands to protect migratory birds from Gulf #oilspill http://bit.ly/9YzyeR

 I’m not about to recommend my own account  because I fail at tweeting (I think I’m up to 15 tweets since I signed on, and most of those are random retweets), but be sure to keep up with the Illinois Times’ account.

ALSO, I’m sure there are tons more out there that I don’t know about but really ought to be following. So, a request: PLEASE fill me in! I need some recommendations, especially for good Springfield-area Twitter-ers.

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