Small steps…

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An irregular column on small steps we can all take to tackle the climate crisis

by Steve Gabell

The climate crisis is a huge issue facing humanity, and the scope of change needed to address it can feel overwhelming. Some of the changes needed are so big they can only be implemented by governments or large private sector companies, such as decommissioning fossil fuel fired power stations, or large-scale deployment of renewable energy generation. And some of the changes that can be made by individuals may be out of reach due to the financial outlay involved, such as buying an EV, or installing solar panels at home. But there are many small changes we can all make which can add up to have a big impact.

The internet has exploded in size and scope since it started in the early 1980s, and, even the last decade, has seen rapid changes. Around 4.6 billion people use the internet daily, and there are around 30 billion internet-connected devices in the world, including laptop and desktop computers, tablets, phones, smartwatches, cars, washing machines, and thermostats. It’s estimated that by 2025 the IT industry could be responsible for 20% of all electricity use and up to 5.5% of the world’s carbon emissions.

Google have established themselves as the default search engine over the last twenty years, with an estimated 5.5 billion searches a year, or over 65,000 per second. But there are alternatives to Google, and using a different search engine involves minimal effort. Ecosia is a great alternative to Google, both for search and for browsing. Instead of taking profits to enrich shareholders, Ecosia use their profits to plant trees around the world, and have now planted over 136 million trees. Ecosia have not taken the simple route and planted large monocultures, they have planted a large variety of native species in over 30 countries, where they are needed most and work with local communities.

Ecosia are helping to tackle the biodiversity crisis we are also facing at present. They report that each search removes 1kg of CO2 from the atmosphere, and, if Ecosia was as big as Google, it could absorb 15% of all global emissions. Monthly financial reports and tree planting receipts are made public by Ecosia, and they don’t sell user data to advertisers, or use external tracking tools, making it a great choice for people concerned about internet privacy.

To start using Ecosia, simply head to ecosia.org. Desktop and mobile versions are available, and you can also keep track of how many trees have been planted due to your searches. What could be easier than using a different search engine? Over 15 million people are already using Ecosia and choosing to help our world.

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