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A sustainable search engine?

May 18, 2019 | Sustainability

We have seen the over-enthusiastic vloggers advertising their channels or products on YouTube. Yet this interesting ad caught my eye. The ad goes something like this…

Ecosia 2018

“What if you could search for anything and plant a tree during the process?” Interesting, isn’t it? The name of the search engine is called Ecosia. At the time of this post, they’ve already achieved a grand undertaking of planting just over 57 million tree saplings. How much of a threat are they to the search giant Google?

Before we talk about their impact, let us see what they provide the users:

  • Complete financial transparency
  • CO2 neutral servers
  • Privacy friendly

They have posted their financial reports from day 1 in 2014 and the condensed reports talk about their ever-increasing reserves to help with a stable payday for their reforestation partners. The start up believes that if they were to be as big as Google, they would be able to absorb almost 15% of all global Carbon emissions.

While Google is already Carbon-neutral in terms of its energy-use, niche-specific marketing campaigns from the competition has divided the millennials. Bing has brought its own incentive game on to its search engine. DuckDuckGo promotes its high levels of privacy as the main feature. Can Google retain its tech-savvy clients through the conventional means or does the search engine need a makeover?

At the moment, Google and Baidu have nothing to worry about. They enjoy their household brand names and the failure of Yahoo! and Bing in the race towards search engine domination means that it is not easy to hold up against the speed and comfort provided by the giant. And bear in mind that Ecosia is not a non-profit organisation. It spends around 80% of its profits on conservation efforts. The search engine uses results from Yahoo! and Bing and earns a revenue from ads provided by Yahoo!

Given its average revenue per divert, it takes Ecosia anywhere between 40-100 ads to plant a tree. In the age of the extinction rebellions, the search engine has been gaining popularity, especially among conservationists. The question that haunts us all is if capitalism can solve global warming through integration of sustainability and technology? Whatever the answer for that question may be, we know that both the start-ups and tech-giants have a lot more work on their hands.