Internet Explorer just launched an interesting browser application.  You sign up, take an online quiz to estimate your carbon footprint, and each day your browser will remind you to take carbon-reducing actions.  You have to do the program for at least 6 weeks, and after the 6th week they will plant a tree in one of 3 locations --  South America, Asia and Africa.  You have a choice of 3 trees in each location, and you get a "virtual forest" where you can watch your tree grow.

The Quiz:

Choose your tree:

It's quite similar in concept to the EVO tree program I helped design a few years back with the added "daily reminder" feature which though innovative could also get a little annoying.  But maybe that's what it takes to really start changing behaviors -- a cyber-nag. Carbon Fund developed the quiz and reminders and according to the website the trees are planted by "a world leader in planting trees for environmental restoration."  It sounds good, but I've learned not to trust claims in the tree-planting world.  So hopefully the website will add more details about the organizations involved.

Unfortunately the app can only be used on Internet Explorer 7.0.  That means us Mac users are left out of the game.  And another major strike is that you cannot see the "virtual forest" that you've planted unless you have the latest install of Microsoft Silverlight.  Since most PC's have Adobe Flash as the default video application, you will have to download Silverlight.  And if you are one of the unlucky few who have an early version of Silverlight, you will have to first uninstall the old Silverlight, then download and install the new one.  

I'm afraid the hoop-jumping required to go see your virtual forest will test the patience of most all users, so I suspect that they will not have very many installs.  Too bad they didn't partner with Firefox and use Flash like the rest of the world.  Nevertheless kudos for trying.  The idea of creating a virtual forest using real trees is pretty cool.  If you want to try the install visit the Carbon Grove website.

Related posts:

Environmentalism 2.0: can the internet save the planet?

MokuGift's iPhone tree

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