Most of us (according to the latest statistics) use Google to search. In fact, 80% of all visitors which arrive to this site via a search engine, use Google. However if a search engine offered to give you the same results as Google but also offset your search, would you use that instead? That’s the premise behind the Carbon Neutral Search Engine, who have paid for a sponsored review of their service.
The Carbon Neutral Search Engine was developed by a company called fooke limited in the UK, launching in October 2007. Searches made on their Google powered search engine are offset the emissions generated through online search queries. How do they do this? They have calculated (for UK users) that when taking account the energy used by the search engine and by the user’s computer that 17.57g of carbon are emitted. Because this will vary massively by country they offset each search query by a minimum of 300g via offsetters Climate Care and Carbon Fund (see later). The home page shows the exact emissions offset to date.
So what’s it like to use? Well, as you can see it’s all black, I assume as a way to save a tiny bit of power on certain LCD monitors (there’s an LCD Monitor Search link in the top left of the page), and works pretty much exactly the same way as Google does.
So how do they pay for this offsetting? Well the results that are displayed show Google Adwords ads, they same as they would on Google itself. However any clicks on the ads make money on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis for the Carbon Neutral Search Engine, through the program Google Adsense. I have no problem with that, it’s the fundamental basis that most websites make money, but in this case the profits are going towards carbon offsetting schemes rather than to the advertisers.
As you can see above, the Google referral ad (for Google Adsense) is on the large side, with some adverts below it, followed by the same search results you get in Google (I checked!).
As mentioned they use Climate Care and the Carbon Fund to provide their offsetting. According to the site “Climate Care is a leading offsetting organisation in the United Kingdom and through investing in renewable technology, energy efficiency and reforestation has offset a total of 1m tonnes since they were founded in 1998. They continue to grow through partnerships with leading international brands including British Airways, Land Rover and Grant Thornton. Carbon Fund is also a leading US non profit carbon offsetting company, offsetting over 1m tonnes from 400 companies and 100 000 individuals.”
If the search engine is a success, they also also plan to develop small scale renewable energy projects within the UK, which is an honourable goal for any company.
Personally I think it works great, provides the same functionality as Google and it’s simplistic with no pop-ups or crowded with adverts or links to other sites (besides the ones your searching for of course…). Soon they will be launching a browser plugin (both Firefox and Internet Explorer) to increase ease of use, but for now check out the Carbon Neutral Search Engine.