Internet visionaries like to paint pictures of effortless cruising from one exciting, information-packed site to another, but the reality can be more like the “Life in Hell” cartoon showing a zoned-out surfer falling asleep at his keyboard while a file downloads. The good news is that most prominent environmental sites are thoughtfully set-up and include key tools for turning surfers into activists. Space prohibits a complete listing of environmental Websites, but here’s a selected rundown:
E/The Environmental Magazine
May we begin by immodestly plugging our own “virtual site.” E started out a year ago with a Website on the Electronic Newsstand, but now we’ve developed our own Internet presence. E‘s Website is a work in progress, so please check in often to see the changes we’ve made. Coming attractions include “Ask E/The Environmental Magazine” and a comprehensive guide to grassroots groups.
EcoMall takes the “mall” part of its name seriously: There’s one-stop environmental shopping here. But there’s also a good deal of green information and links to many organizations and publications, including E Magazine.
The oldest environmental computer service, EcoNet, only recently set up shop on the Web. The Web page is structured for the information-hungry environmental activist, with material culled from its connected conferences and news groups.
The most valuable tool here is EcoWeb’s Links (WWW Virtual Library Environment Subject Page), divided alphabetically and by subject.
EnviroLink, the Web’s most complete environmental service, is very graphically colorful, with all the available resources, from its keyword-searchable Sustainable Electronic Environmental Library (SEEL) for newsletters, magazines and journals to its “Internet Green Marketplace” for advertisers, displayed with clever icons. EnviroLink has excellent search tools to aid the bewildered traveler looking for specific environmental information.
Environmental News Network (ENN)
A news and information service, ENN gathers its material from many sources, including wire services, government agencies, industry, special interest groups, correspondents and environmental professionals. Check the Calendar for information on upcoming environmental events.
For environmentalists looking to fight corporate polluters, a visit to the site maintained by Essential Information (founded in 1982 by Ralph Nader) is, well…essential. In addition to being a tool-kit on confronting white-collar crime, the Website is also a link to Geographical Information Systems (GIS), which are environmental maps constructed from computer and satellite data. The site offers an index to articles from Nader’s Multinational Monitor, though they can’t be read online.
This EcoNet partner uses its Web site as an online marketplace for “ecologically-sensitive” products and educational information on sustainable living. One feature of this site is “Greenstore,” an interactive forum for consumers to discuss the sustainable life.
This site features the latest information on Greenpeace’s many campaigns around the world, including toxins, nuclear power and weapons, atmosphere, marine and biodiversity. There’s even a Greenpeace chat line.
League of Conservation Voters
The League offers complete environmental scorecards on congress’ performance, giving percentage ratings to each elected representative. Recent environmental votes are also highlighted.
National Audubon Society
The National Audubon Society’s otherwise very complete site feels somewhat commercial, with its free backpack offers and trial membership packages. Audubon has local chapters in 518 communities, and a novel feature allowed each of them to add their newsletters to the homepage.
The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
TNC is new to the Web; its home page was just being launched as E went to press, but it promises to be extensive, with biodiversity information on all 50 states, plus “Species Spotlights” and more than 20 downloadable video and audio clips.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)
PETA Online offers factsheets, campaign updates, action alerts, membership information and a list of more than 500 cruelty-free companies.
Rainforest Action Network (RAN)
A very savvy site. In addition to “Action Alerts,” “Kids Corner,” “Demonstrations” and “Rainforest Information,” RAN’s site offers a well-designed “What You Can Do” feature that speeds and streamlines the usually tedious task of e-mailing friends and foes.
Activism is the key to 20-20 Vision’s site, which concentrates on environmental and peace issues and features lots of exclamation points and “Urgents!” 20-20 Vision’s site is action oriented; users are invited to, for instance, react to their senators’ and representative’s vote on the timber salvage rider (listed by district).
This is not specifically an environmental site, but includes lots of environmental information and links. WebActive’s specialty is connecting activists to information and action items.
If you’re having trouble finding your way around, free Internet “search engines” (which help you cruise the Web by entering a “keyword”) will make the surfing easier. Type “global warming,” for instance, and the search engine will respond with more than 100 sites featuring information on that subject. The most popular engines are: Yahoo (http://www.yahoo.com/); Lycos (http://www.lycos.com/); Webcrawler (http://webcrawler.com/); and, InfoSeek (http://www2.infoseek.com/).
The GreenDisk Journal has just published a comprehensive guide (on IBM or Macintosh discs) to the environment online, listing over 1,000 Web sites, listserves, online data bases and bulletin boards. It’s $25 postpaid from Greendisk, P.O. Box 32224, Washington, DC 20007. Return to The Virtual Environment…