Youth Blog - Planting Trees With Your Keyboard  

Planting Trees With Your Keyboard

Developments in renewable energy have allowed for the technology for a city to be electrically powered merely by doing something most people do everyday: walking. Everyday with more and more changes and ideas being circulated all in attempts to help the planet, the idea of doing one’s bit effortlessly sounds too good to be true. Cities are not yet equipped with this renewable technology, however there is another way that you could help the environment by doing something you are likely already doing every day, multiple times even. Ecosia (Ecosia - the search engine that plants trees) is a Berlin based search engine that uses 80% of its profits to plant trees.

At first, one might suspect this is too good to be true. However through monthly financial reports, Ecosia shows where their money goes, and furthermore where in the world trees are being planted. Through ad revenue generated when a person clicks on ads (just as they typically would with another search engine such as Google), 80% of this money goes toward projects around the world to regenerate forests. Every 45 searches is said to be equivalent to 1 tree, and there is a motivational counter on the top right corner of the screen for the user to keep track of their number of searches.

Ecosia is powered by Microsoft Bing, another search engine. Microsoft as a company has been carbon-neutral since 2012, meaning that the company offsets the carbon dioxide it produces. Ecosia uses 100% renewable energy and claims to be carbon negative, while Microsoft plans on being carbon-negative by 2030.

However, Ecosia being powered by Microsoft Bing means that ads and search results are generated from a third party. This may raise privacy concerns for some. Ecosia’s privacy policy however stresses that searches become anonymous after seven days, each search is encrypted and the information sent to third parties are only done so when necessary for search results.

Regardless, Ecosia’s privacy settings are not as rigid as some users may prefer, for example those who opt for engines such as DuckDuckGo for this reason. Many would argue however that Ecosia is significantly safer than Google, as it does not create personal profiles for users which mine data from many sources to compile tailored results.

Information about the work Ecosia has done can be found on their blog page. Notably, since 2014 over 15 million trees have been planted in Burkina Faso, a country in West Africa. When land is desertified, it is no longer fertile enough to grow crops on. Such land in Burkina Faso has been regenerated through the trees Ecosia has helped plant there, improving both the environment and providing job opportunities. There are a plethora of tree planting projects elsewhere in the world as well.

Trees provide a multitude of benefits. The forestry business itself produces jobs, however there is an increasing recognition for the way trees affect climate change. Through photosynthesis, trees absorb carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas that is contributing to the rapidly progressing climate crisis. What’s more, trees provide habitats and food for many different species (such as squirrels). This positively impacts biodiversity, an effect which the UK for example could greatly benefit from as 13% of their native species abundance has been lost since 1970.

Why choose to use Ecosia? For the same reason why if given the choice a person might sooner walk down a street paved with energy producing paths compared with regular concrete: the sake of the environment. The effect of using Ecosia may be scoffed at as small, however every drop of water is compiled to make up the Ocean. Google is the leading competitor in the search engine market. By making the switch to a comparatively safer, greener search engine, you could help the ever-growing climate crisis. If as a society we wish to have a future not laden with drought, famine and natural disasters, we must seriously consider our everyday actions. When we begin to nurture the environment, we nurture the future generations.

Sources:

Ecosia Blog on Burkina Faso 

Review of Ecosia 

Review of Ecosia 2 

Review of Ecosia 3 

How Trees Fight Climate Change

Benefits of Wildlife