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"Bio-based" Search Engines

I am still working on the second part of the focus on algae, and between research, and moving to a new place, I am not finding just enough time to flesh out the article just yet. It will come though!

Instead tonight, I wanted to write an informal entry on a particular aspect of "bio-based" ideas: what anyone can do for environmental protection and conservation. In most of the industrialized world and beyond, internet access is pervasive. I find that I am spending quite a bit of time on the internet be it for email, searching information, social networking or gaming. I am sure others will have their own habits on the internet.

It's easy to forget that each action on the internet actually has an environmental cost associated with it. The computers used to read this blog use electricity. Games can be demanding on the graphics card which if high-end can use even more energy than the CPU itself. Beyond the borders of your own computer, each action one takes puts a certain work-load on server machines located somewhere else. And of course these server machines also consume varying amounts of energy.

With all the talk about carbon footprint, it may not be surprising to find that surfing the internet also has a carbon footprint. Searches especially despite the apparent simplicity can consume a lot of energy - sometimes as much as a 11 Watt light bulb in an hour!

For this reason, I just wanted to introduce two green search engines:

1.) Znout
2.) Forestle

These search engines don't actually use new algorithms that are more efficient or anything. In fact, Forestle is a custom search engine using the Yahoo! search engine, while Znout uses Google. What makes these custom search engines green though is what they do with the revenue generated by searches.

According to the website, Znout stands for "zero negative output" and is a CO2 neutral Internet search engine that turns your web searches into green web searches by keeping track of energy usage, and carbon foot-printing and off-setting these by buying renewable energy credits at the end of each month.

Forestle goes a step further. In addition to purchases of renewable energy credits, Forestle uses ALL the revenue minus 10% for administrative costs by donating the remaining profits to The Nature Conservancy's "Adopt an Acre" program.

Because the search engines are based on the two main search engines - Yahoo! and Google -, the search results should be very familiar. Switching to these search engines is easy. They even have a search plug-in feature so that you can search from the comfort of your browser.

Anyway, give these search engines a try, and help save the environment while searching/browsing the internet with them.
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