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Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Global Swarming For Global Warming

A new Facebook application is helping users measure their carbon footprint, create tailored goals to reduce it and then track their progress over time and compare their personal ‘Carbon Timeline’ with their friends.  The application, known as ‘Edenbee’, is the brainchild of two Dubliners, David Hayes and Peter O’Brien, whose belief in the importance of individual action in fighting climate change led them to set up the Edenbee website.  Using Facebook as a platform to launch their application has now enabled them to reach an even larger potential audience of 65 million people.
The still-growing popularity of social networks such as twitter and Facebook makes them ideal vehicles for launching environmental campaigns and attracting supporters to the climate change cause.  The contagious nature of the uptake of new applications on Facebook and the phenomenon of ‘keeping up Facebook appearances’ work in the favour of environmentally-aware applications such as Edenbee.  With manageable goals (‘turn my thermostat down by one degree’, ‘switch off my mobile phone charger when it’s not in use’), links to favourite ‘causes’ such 350.org (see our previous blog on this) and the encouragement to compare your climate change achievements with those your friends, Edenbee should be a runaway success in promoting environmental awareness.
At the same time, Facebook applications can come and go very quickly.  As soon as the novelty wears off, users are onto the next hot thing.  The creators of Edenbee are promoting a bottom-up approach to action on climate change centred on individual action, but can Edenbee actually influence the political agenda?  ‘Join the call for a strong climate treaty at Copenhagen with tcktcktck and their partners’ is one of the ‘goals’ users of the application can sign up to on Facebook.  Spreading awareness and popularising the climate change cause using social networks is certainly a start, but it remains to be seen whether Edenbee can be more than just a passing fad.

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