how can I help stop climate change - change your search engine protect the trees

Climate Change, What Can I Do To Help?

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Incorporate Climate-Friendly Tasks In Your Day

As we were warned a few years ago, the number and severity of unusually powerful weather events has increased, and this week saw the Gulf of Mexico battered by two hurricanes, for the first time ever.

If you are not already actively making climate-based decissions in your daily life, it is about time you did and I hope this one, simple idea gives you an idea for a positive action that you can do right now.

Websites Have An Environmental Impact

There are plenty of other websites talking about how you can swap your light bulbs to LEDs, switch to renewable energies, cycle to work or install heat pumps for your newly insulated house, so I won't go into those in any detail.

The changes I've personally made are:

  • All lighting is LED
  • Maximised household insulation
  • Set schedules on my computers so they power-down at night
  • Use smart-sockets that both tell me how much energy I am using and allow me to schedule things to turn off
  • Switched my search engine
  • Installed smart radiator thermostats

Wait, go back a step. Switched my search engine? Yes, you can help the fight against climate change (in a small way) by using a different search engine.

Everything we do online, or with computers in general, generates carbon-dioxide, whether it's sending an email, calculating payroll or searching for a local restaurant opening hours.
Just by reading this article, you're generating 0.2 grams of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions per second

Fight CO2 By Searching Smart

So here's the quick life-hack you can make today to help fight climate change .... There's a search engine you can switch to that plants trees to fight against carbon dioxide and improve our environment.

Like Google and other search engines, this search engine makes money every time you click an ad, or make a purchase from a store by clicking on a link. Unlike others, this one uses 80% of its profit to plant trees, and at the time of writing they've planted over 105,432,872 trees.

Why Plant Trees?

Planting trees could have a major impact in helping slow down climate change. But the number of trees we need to plant is large, more than 3 billion. In a study released last year, scientists identified areas suitable for reforestation and discovered a total area the size of the US that could support enough trees to capture one third of all our carbon emissions.


Introducing Ecosia

It's such a small effort to make the change, but could have a real cumulative impact. I've switched, and set my default search engine on my laptop and smartphones to use Ecosia.

They say you need conduct approximately 45 searches to plant a tree, I'm well on my way to my first tree - I would imagine I can contribute to at least one, perhaps up to three trees a day.

Search Powered By Microsoft

Looking under the hood of Ecosia, I see that they've partnered with Microsoft for both the search engine and advertising assets, and that got me thinking about what else Microsoft is doing to help with climate change.

A lot of companies talk about sustainability, some talk (extensively about saving bees, for example), but is Microsoft one of the companies that talks, or one that does? Let's see...

microsoft environment officer (how can I help stop climate change)Well, for starters, they have a Chief Environment Officer who overseas all of their sustainability activities, identifying, tracking, and building environmental projects that Microsoft's technology can help with.

He doesn't seem to be holding his punches, bringing to life some truly big-thinking projects like AI for Earth to help create a Planetary Computer.

They describe the Planetary Computer as:

A set of geospatial data and distributed computing tools that enable global-scale analyses for conservation and sustainability. Lead the design and implementation of architectures for distributed geospatial data processing, from rapid prototyping to production development. The core of the work will focus on creating a development environment for Earth science practitioners to leverage geospatial data on Azure, building on both OSS and commercial tools.
Microsoft

Translated ....

Translating this a little bit - There's a lot of scientist all over the planet gathering huge amounts of data about the climate and climate-impacting activities, across a very large number of places.

There's really so much data being generated that human analysis alone really can't make sense of it, so AI has a big role to play here.

AI works really well with large sets of data, especially data that has been "labelled" (this means the AI knows what the data is showing, the meta-data if you like). The data that's being captured by these scientists is labelled in some fashion, so that's great for AI.

The challenge, though, is one of data sharing, normalisation and transparency, which is typically quite a difficult thing to do at a global scale.

It seems Microsoft is trying here to create a global AI platform that can support all of this and therefore help find important answers hidden in the vast swaths of global data.

There's a lot of fun tools to play with on their website, I particularly like the Forest explorer, check it out here.

Over to you.

What can I do to help stop climate change?

If there's just one new thing you do after reading this post, start using Ecosia and get some trees planted.

But if you want to do a bit more, Microsoft has grants available to help drive change. Find out more here.

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