Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

September 6, 2007

The Power of the People and Internet

Category: Big Things,Economics,Observations,Rants,Take Actions – Tom Harrison – 9:21 pm

I think it’s time for all of us to organize our efforts and make the changes needed to conserve energy, raise awareness of global warming, and use the power of many to get a lot done.

My mom always said “Many hands make light work” (usually as we attempted to skulk away from unwashed dinner dishes). But she’s right. The power of many people acting in concert can be pretty amazing. And in the realm of energy, global warming, conservation, and environmentalism there’s a lot to be done. Understatement. But I’ll confess that I sometimes feel like it’s hard to feel like my individual efforts really make that much of a difference. But I know others are out there, thinking about change, willing to take effort to change, but perhaps feeling a little alone, as I sometimes do. It can be frustrating.

This blog was an attempt to spread the word, but I fear what I say may not be all that different from what has been written about in so many other places, more eloquently, and certainly to a larger audience. So it occurs to me that perhaps I can use my real skills, software engineering and web development, to take an alternate try at finding a way to make a meaningful impact.

I think the key is finding ways to let people work together as a group. Perhaps they have a specific objective like getting solar panels installed ona local school. Perhaps they just need information on how to accomplish specific things that others have done or want to do. Perhaps they just want to find a fun, engaging, rewarding and friendly place to talk with people of like mind. And in all cases, I think people need inspiration — I sure do! And I think the Internet is a perfect medium for such things.

This new Internet phenomenon is all around — Facebook, Digg, LinkedIn and scores of other sites that allow the users to take control. The old Internet was “read only”, except for the occasional form to fill out when you placed and order or wrote a product review. Bulletin boards and forums have been around forever, but they are … different. The new Internet let’s users be more than commenters or anonymous entities, but integral actors in what I think is a great social experiment. One of the ones that first got me thinking about how the Internet could be more than a big book was PhotoSIG, where I would post pictures I took (on film, then scanned!) and also wrote critiques of others’ photos. It is a great site, but far from perfect, and I rarely vist there any more. The company I work at now has a very active Question and Answer feature for Digital Camera, Camcorder and TV buyers, but in truth it’s mostly just a new twist on bulletin boards. Above all, I most admire, which uses the power of the Internet to affect real change in our political system — this is a true organization that has created and maintained a truly powerful and effective community of users for almost 10 years, now, I think.

In the “green” world, there are a lot of great websites. There are plenty of sites that write and inform, like TreeHugger and Grist. Others are activist, like NRDC, Environmental Actionn, Environmental Defense, and others. Some have a specific objective, like GreenDimes and TerraPass. It’s all goodness — these are the sites that inspire me to think, learn and take action. But I still feel alone, and I want a place where people can come together.

Like most social experiments, it will go wrong a few times before maybe a shred of goodness begins to emerge.

We’ll see how my new experiment goes.


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