Ecosia – Plant Trees with Every Search!

By Bronte Kass

This week, replace your search engine with Ecosia!  Ecosia, founded in 2009, is a company that plants trees with its ad revenue; you search the web, and the ads generate income for tree planting projects in Burkina Faso, Africa.  There’s a free browser extension, and you can set it as your home page or even download the Ecosia app to search on your phone!

Through planting millions of trees in West Africa, Ecosia is bringing water, plants and animals back to drought-ridden areas and reviving the land for people’s health, jobs and independence.  Based in Germany, they donate an impressive 80% of their income after expenses.

Here are some testimonials from Upworthy, Scientific American, The Guardian, and Salon.

trees planted

More than 2.5 million people use Ecosia every month.  Their next goal is planting 1 billion trees by 2020, so bookmark their page and give them support!  It’s an incredibly easy way to spend zero dollars, change one small habit, and help the Earth.

So far, I’ve planted over 2,000 trees with my searches – can’t wait to see how many you will!

 

Social Responses to Climate Change

By Caity Varian

Climate change has emerged as one of America’s most polarizing political issues. Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that scientists are more than 97% certain that climate change is happening and that the primary cause is human activity. While there are climate deniers across the globe, this anti-science stance is a primarily an American phenomenon. Why?

The United States is one of the most responsible nations for climate change, which might explain why we experience the most skepticism. Climate skepticism challenges the credibility of science and disputes the claim that there is a scientific consensus on climate change. There are two levels of skepticism: denying that climate change is happening and denying that climate change is happening due to human activity. Ignorance about climate change is preventing appropriate public action.

Emotion plays a key role in climate change denial. Feelings of fear, helplessness and guilt all play a part in the denial process.

Kari Marie Norgaard, Environmental Sociologist at the University of Oregon, analyzes the social responses to climate change information. Norgaard argues that climate denial is a social process in which collective actions are taken to restore a sense of equilibrium and social stability. Cognitive and social tools are used to deny or ignore a problem even when the populace agrees it should be addressed.

Respondents who are better informed about climate change express less rather than more responsibility for the problem and respondents with higher levels of information about global warming show less concern. The theory of cognitive dissonance claims that people with low self-efficacy will be likely to deny responsibility and concern unless they feel they are able to do something about the problem. People stop paying attention to global climate change when they realize there is no easy solution. Many experience guilt and a feeling of powerlessness. The logic is “I don’t think about it because there is nothing I can do.”

Climate Change poses profound challenges to our identities and cultures. Responses of denial and skepticism reflect our motivation to dominate nature and continue to improve our standard of living, whether we would like to admit it or not. We don’t want to give up our luxuries, make compromises or admit that we are a part of the problem.  

The first step to addressing the problem is admitting that there is in fact a problem and that we are contributing to it. We must come to an agreement that climate change is real and it is primarily caused by human activity. We must rethink our way of life, our energy consumption and consider what we are willing to give up or change in order to address the problem. A firm belief in science and an open mind about finding solutions is the first step to making the environmental and social change that our planet needs.

10/10/10: Go To Work for the Planet

By Cheryl Mahoney

I wrote this title, and then realized there had to be a wealth of potential for Superman jokes…but I digress, before I even begin.

What I meant to reference by my title was, not editor Perry White, but rather, 350.org.  If you’re a long time reader of this blog, perhaps you remember my post about their International Day of Climate Change last October.  Well, 350.org is organizing another global event.  This time, it’s for October tenth–10/10/10–this Sunday.

350.org is all about taking action on climate change.  Their message is about bringing the CO2 in the atmosphere down to 350 parts per million–the level that many scientists believe is the maximum we can have if we want to sustain life as we know it on this planet.

This Sunday, 350.org is bringing awareness to the cause by holding a global work party.  They’ve been asking people to make plans to go to work to fight climate change–installing solar panels, replacing light bulbs with energy efficient ones, plant a tree…if it helps the planet, it qualifies!

I was trying to think what information I could share that would be most inspiring.  And then it occurred to me…Bill McKibben, who heads up 350.org, sent out a great email a few days ago sharing some exciting events people have planned.  So why reinvent the wheel, right?  Check out the events he shared, and then head over to 350.org if you’re inspired to take action.  Remember, anything that helps the planet…and if you can make being a mild-mannered reporter for a great Metropolitan newspaper into a green activity, that’ll work too.  😉

10/10/10 Event Highlights

Funniest: Sumo wrestlers cycling to practice in downtown Tokyo.

Most remote: An education center in the Namib Desert in Namibia installing six solar panels.

Smallest country taking part:
Divers on the smallest island nation of the world, Nauru (8.1 square miles) will plunge into their coral reefs for an underwater clean-up.

Most presidential: President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives is installing solar panels on his roof.

Most tipsy: Partiers in Edinburgh will be throwing a “Joycott” (a reverse boycott) at a local bar that agreed to put 20% of its extra revenues on 10/10/10 to making the bar more energy efficient. Attendees will try and drink as much as possible to raise money. Cheers!

Most poignant: In San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico, students will hand out solar-powered lights to families who are still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Alex this June, 2010.

Most cross-cultural: Over 100 cyclists from Jordan, Israel and Palestine taking part in a 3-day bicycle relay to carry water from the Yarmouk River and the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea to symbolize the need for cooperation to stop climate change and save precious water resources.

Most educational: 850 universities in China, India, and the United States are joining 10/10/10 as part of the Great Power Race campaign, a clean energy competition.

Most carbon cut: On 10/10/10 the Mayor of Mexico City will sign a commitment to reduce the city’s emissions 10% in a single year. The city government will be directly responsible for 5% of the reductions and lead a public campaign to get citizens to cut the remaining 5%.

Most futuristic: Young people in Barbados will be demonstrating the viability of fuel cell technology in a hovercraft they have built themselves.

Head to http://www.350.org/ to register an event–more than 7,000 are registered so far!!

How to Change the World

By Cheryl Mahoney

Do you want to tell Congress to ban goods made by modern-day slaves?  You can.

Would you like to tell the Olympic Committee to serve sustainable food?  You can.

Do you want to make a statement for human rights in Darfur?  You can.

Do you want to keep up with the latest news on social entrepreneurship, the environment, and homelessness?  You can do that too.

How?  By going to Change.org.

Change.org is an incredible site, with information and action opportunities for a wide range of issues.  It’s kind of like a lot of different social issue sites all wrapped up in one. 

Looking for blogs about social issues?  They’ve got at least a dozen–probably more. 

Looking for a social networking site to connect with other people who care about the same cause as you?  You can do that here too. 

Looking for ways to take action, maybe through a petition?  I haven’t a found a count anywhere, but I would be bet that there are hundreds of petitions available, on many different issues (and if you don’t see one for the issue you want, you can start your own).  Almost 100,000 actions have been taken this week.  Not month, not year–WEEK.

Looking for a way to support your favorite nonprofit, and keep up to date on their latest news?  Lots of nonprofits have profiles on the site, including UniversalGiving.

So check out Change.org for frequently updated content about the causes you care about, petitions to sign and people to connect to.  Do you want to create change?  You can.

Do It Anyway

By Cheryl Mahoney

On our founder’s blog, Living and Giving, we recently featured a poem titled “Do It Anyway.”  Everything may not turn out perfectly when you try to do good…but do it anyway. 

“The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. 
Give your best anyway.”

And so on.  It’s a beautiful poem, and you can read it in its entirety here.  In working with it, I discovered that the story behind the poem was nearly as interesting as the poem itself.

If you put “Do It Anyway” into Google (or GoodSearch.com), you will most likely find it attributed to Mother Teresa.  If you happen across a certain New York Times article, however, you’ll discover a more complicated story.  Kent M. Keith wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments” as a college student in 1968.   He self-published them, went on with the rest of his life, and forgot about them.  Writers occasionally remark that their writing has taken on a life of its own–rarely has this been so literally true.  “The Paradoxical Commandments” spread from person to person and, eventually, website to website, without the author’s knowledge and mostly without anyone having knowledge of the author.

Somehow the poem ended up in Calcutta.  A revised version was found, hand-written, on the wall of Mother Teresa’s orphanage.  Lucinda Vardey attributed it to Mother Teresa in her book Mother Teresa: A Simple Path.  The poem’s popularity soared.

And at a club meeting in 1998, 30 years after writing “The Paradoxical Commandments,” Mr. Keith heard his words quoted back to him, which led him to investigate the surprising growth of his writing.  He now has three books expanding on the poem available on Amazon.

Lesson learned:

If you write something beautiful, you may receive no recognition for it.
Write something anyway.

And reflecting on the subject has led me to come up with a few more “do it anyway”s myself.

If you give internationally, you might never meet the people you help.
Give anyway.

If you volunteer, you might not have a life-changing experience (though you very well might).
Volunteer anyway.

If you search on GoodSearch.com, you might still have to go to Google to find the site you need.
Start at GoodSearch anyway.

If you write a letter to a friend, you might not hear back.
Write a letter anyway.

If you write a letter to your senator about passing green legislation, they might not listen.
Write that letter anyway too.

If you set a goal to change the world, you might not reach it.
But set goals anyway.

And to wind up by quoting Mother Teresa:

“In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”