Some of you may already know this, but I ran into a search engine (like Google or Bing) that shows advertisements just like any other search engine would, but instead of keeping revenues as profit, it uses (most of) its ads revenues to plant trees! Here’s a quick description:
Ecosia is a search engine based in Berlin, Germany, that donates 80% or more of its profits to nonprofit organizations that focus on reforestation. Ecosia considers itself a social business, is CO₂-negative, claims to support full financial transparency, protect the privacy of its users…
Note that I have no link to them, just intrigued by the idea of using ads $ for something useful like reforestation. This idea could be used for just about any social or environmental causes.
Looks like there is some information on their activities. They also work with third party organisations and other local not for profit who would presumably understand the local ecology and needs.
See here for an example: https://blog.ecosia.org/uganda/
And if you scroll down a bit, they specify the species they are planting (for the Uganda project). I am pleasantly surprised that they actually provided the information.
I’m personally a skeptic of Ecosia’s real purpose, mostly because of the main ad I see from them. They show a before and after image with the first being a desert and second being an young African savanna forest labeled “8 Years Later” or something and I’m just like, where did the desert sand go? Where is the water to keep these trees alive?
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of trees being planted using this kind of promotion but I’m currently on a do I really trust them level at the moment.
yeah planting trees in deserts is usually a bad idea for a lot of reasons and if they can’t tell an overgrazed wasteland from an actual desert (which will often have its own high diversity) that raises huge flags for me.
Don’t assume local organisations will understand the local ecology or have the interests of wildlife at heart. The UK has suffered several waves of tree planting over the last century and they have done huge damage to our biodiversity. Much of it has been purely commercial with no pretence of benefitting wildlife. But since the 1973 Plant a Tree for 73 campaign there has been a strong movement to get the public to donate for tree planting. The trouble is, the land allocated for tree planting is usually the cheapest, which means not good for intensive farming, which in turn means still has above average biodiversity. And because tree-planting is so ingrained in the public perception as A Good Thing, it is easy to raise money and it appeals to politicians who want to demonstrate how environmentally friendly they are. So in last month’s election all the parties were competing over how many billion trees they were going to plant with none of them explaining where all the land would come from.
I don’t know enough about Australian forest ecology to be dogmatic. In principle, I prefer to let natural regeneration do the job. Ecosia admits they don’t know if it will work in this case. Certainly something will colonise the burnt ground. It might start a succession of native species, or it might be invasive aliens. Maybe they should wait a few years before going in and planting what someone has decided should grow there.
Hello, to me using advertising money to protect the environment is like getting a percentage from cocaine sales to support drug rehabilitation centers!
Advertising (with more spending than all education budgets on earth) is one of the main drivers of environment degradation.
Adding to that the problem of reforesting: it would be fine if trees were planted in Ecosia staff gardens but planting for numbers means looking for the cheapest land, not taking the time to assess all potential impacts, not keeping the money necessary for the long term care (40 years is a long time for a web company). In the worst case it could even grab land that people use for food as it has happened in Madagascar.
In a few months we will see how the voluntary economic slowdown due to the virus has had by far the most efficient effect on climate change mitigation and other environmental issues. Degrowth, exactly what was asked by many for decades.
Doing something for the environment on the web is simple: use an adblocker.