A green search engine? Is that really necessary? I mean how “un-green” is a regular search?
Those were our thoughts when we first heard about Forestle.org. Forestle is a search engine started in Germany in 2008 that is apparently not only carbon dioxide neutral but also saves the rainforests.

How can this be, you say? Well, Forestle is non-profit site that tracks the carbon dioxide emissions caused by running their own servers, the network infrastructure and also the projected emissions caused by the computers of those who perform Forestle searches.

They then use part of the revenue generated from advertising on their site to purchase renewable energy certificates that are investments in wind, solar, geothermal, tidal and other renewable forms of energy. The rest of their revenue, after they maintain their servers and use about 10 per cent for administrative costs, is donated to the Adopt an Acre program, which is run by the Nature Conservancy to sustainably protect rainforests.

Forestle calculates that they save about 0.1 square metres of rainforest per Internet search. This may not seem like much but we personally perform at least five Internet searches per day (there are a lot of things we don’t know) so now we are up to half a square metre of rainforest per day, or 182 square meters per year.

Forestle posts monthly reports on their earnings and acres of rainforest protected and they estimate that to date they have protected almost 1.7 million square metres of rainforest.

Forestle originally planned to partner with Google for their Internet searches, however this agreement fell apart for some reason and they are now partnered with Yahoo.

So how well does the search engine work? We tried a few searches on both Forestle and Google. Some of the links that turned up were the same and some were different. Both search engines gave us useful information and it did not appear that one engine was any better than the other. In fact, it looks like if you are having trouble finding information it might be useful to try both Forestle and Google. The one advantage Google does have is that you if you are using Google.ca you can click on the “pages from Canada” button that filters out most U.S. sites, which is useful if you are trying to find something in Canada.

A person forges a deep bond of trust with their search engine. We have to trust it to give us the most relevant information. However, it seems like Forestle is very good idea and is at least worth trying.

• Visit www.Forestle.org, a green search engine site

– Sophia Dore is an environmental scientist with Conestoga-Rovers & Associates. Andrew Laursen is an assistant professor at Ryerson University; earthtones.metro@gmail.com.

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