Posts Tagged internet
For the past few years I have been witnessing a steadily increasing torrent of ePetitions making their way into my inbox. Now don’t get me wrong; they are not spam and I have personally invited them to tempt me with their good causes, pressing issues and downright travesty. However, I now find myself a little concerned that if we collectively sign too many, we could initiate the effect of dulling the keen-edged weapon that is the internet petition.
A few years ago, any politician, CEO, media mogul or ignorant bastard would have been gob-smacked to find a petition dropped into their laps (digitally speaking) that was signed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Consequently, it would have been very likely that whoever the petition was aimed at, be it a government or a misbehaving corporation, would have been pretty unnerved to find their dodgy dealings have attracted the attention of so many and galvanised them into action – albeit the small action of filling in a box and clicking send. At this point of its life, the ePetition is a very powerful tool.
It occurred to me just the other day, though, that by signing all of the petitions sent to me, I may soon found myself sitting on a lonely forgotten mountainside with that kid ; you know, the one who kept shouting, “Wolf! Wolf!”
Over the past year I have signed ePetitions on tar sands, the Amazon, protecting the bees, Syrian atrocities (twice), climate change, the NHS, plastic bags, energy prices, bankers bonuses, fracking, ousting Jeremy Hunt, saving the Rhino, saving this and saving that. I’m a true armchair activist, which of course is fine, but where I’ve previously thought I may be doing some good (ePetitions have been proved to work in the past), I may also need to get a little more picky if that do-gooding is to continue.
Of course ePetitions are a great way of sharing an issue that needs addressing and they will still make people sit up and take notice, plus the fact that the bad guys know that so many of us know what they are up to is wonderful.
However, with all the ePetitions in circulation and people signing everything (like I used to) it won’t be long before 500,000 signatures can be simply brushed aside by the people we’re attempting to influence.
I don’t think that ePetitions should stop; not at all. I just think that those of us who do like to take action by right clicking should spare a thought for the on-going potency of these petitions. It would be very easy for them to loose their muscle if we over-use them. In a way, the biggest enemy of the ePetition is (ironically) it’s biggest advantage: the ease with which one can sign them. I have cookies on my computer so that whenever I decide to sign by filling in my email, all I have to do is push ‘g’ and then send. The rest is done for me. Perhaps if we had to undergo a little more work to get these things signed, then we would only sign the stuff that really matters to us.
Failing that, and since coming to the realisation that signing every ePetition that finds its way to my inbox may not be for the best, I have now designed my own personal hierarchy for ePetitions (designed being a very loose word here):
If it’s something I don’t really care about – delete.
If it’s something I care about, but don’t feel strongly enough to sign – spare a thought, delete.
If it’s something I care and feel strongly about – sign.
If I feel it’s imperative that the issue is fixed now – sign and share on facebook and twitter.
If you like, please feel free to follow my easy four-step guide to not dulling the edge of the ePetition and then carry on signing what you feel you must while protecting the integrity of this potentially very powerful tool. Once this is spent, finding another such device to influence the untouchables may take years, so let’s preserve this one while we still can. Thanks.
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Oh, and just in case you are wondering; there isn’t in fact a petition to sign here, I just used that in the title to try and attract your attention, but you can say something in the comments box if you’d like. If I get more than 3 comments, I may just change the world…
There’s an internet search engine I’ve been using for the last couple of months, which gives 80% of the money it receives from sponsored links towards rainforest conservation. Great in principle, but does it work? Well, read on…
The search engine is called Ecosia, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, then I recommend you give it a try. Initially I thought this would be just another green gimmick; but as I have subsequently come to realise, there is very little difference between this search engine and most of the others out there. The overriding difference is that by using this one you come away from the computer feeling that you may have actually done a little bit of good while performing what is an ever-increasingly, everyday task.
Now, please pardon my laziness, but all of the following information is taken from Ecosia’s own literature so do excuse me if I just copy, paste and let them tell you the important stuff:
How It Works: In a nutshell
- You search with Ecosia.
- Perhaps you click on an interesting sponsored link.
- The sponsoring company pays Bing or Yahoo for the click.
- Bing or Yahoo gives the bigger chunk of that money to Ecosia.
- Ecosia donates at least 80% of this income to support WWF’s work in the Amazon.
Why the rainforest?
Six reasons why sustaining the world’s rainforests is important:
- Tropical rainforests are the most diverse ecosystems on our planet. More than 30 million species call these regions home – that’s two-thirds of all the world’s species.
- Deforestation and the resulting increase in CO2 emissions are considered the second largest cause of climate change today.
- Rainforests function as the “lungs (of) our planet“: they absorb and trap a massive amount of CO2 from the Earth’s atmosphere, keeping the natural balance in check.
- Thanks to their pivotal role in regulating Earth’s climate, tropical rainforests help sustain the lives of all humans beings – not just the estimated 50 million natives inhabiting these regions.
- The past 50 years saw the destruction of half of the world’s tropical rainforests. At the current rate, an area the size of thirty soccer fields is destroyed every minute.
- Despite the immense threat that exists to the rainforest, purely political solutions to its destruction have proved insufficient.
So does it really give money to the rainforest, or is it just a publicity stunt?
Well, if you look at the screenshot above which was taken on the 6th of July 2011, and compare it to the screenshot taken today (15th August 2011), you can see that in the space of 40 days, Ecosia has donated £16,621 to the rainforest. So yes, it does work. What it also highlights is that I’m in the wrong business; sixteen grand in just 40 days? Blimey, no wonder Google has more money than God!
And my verdict is…
Well after a couple of months use, I have to say that this is now my search engine of choice. It easily does the job as good as any others, such as Ask. However, having said that, for a more in-depth search I have had to resort back to Google a couple of times. If, for example, you are searching for a reasonably well-known blog or product, then Ecosia will sort you out with no worries (and you may end up helping to contribute to rainforest conservation). If your search is for something a little bit more obscure then you may have to look elsewhere; but like I said, this has only happened to me once or twice.
In summary then…
Ecosia is a great little search engine: It’s quick, it’s thorough and unlike many novel ideas such as this, it actually works just as well as its counterparts. I’ve made it my primary search engine for about a month now and would highly recommend it to anyone.
If you have anything to say on this article, or indeed anything raised in The Green Review, please join the discussion on our facebook page. The more contentious the better…
Photos courtesy of Ecosia