"Environmental information is one the most exhaustive content areas on the Web," said Pranay Gupte, the editor of The Earth Times, which covers environmental issues. "But much of it is confusing and not well organized, so it's easy to get overwhelmed by it all."
He said much of the information on the Web was contradictory and ideologically driven. To try to clarify the situation, The Earth Times offers its own Web site, with articles from the paper as well as original pieces, focusing on issues like sustainable development on a global scale.
The Envirolink site is one of the largest online resources. The site, which got its start in 1991 as an e-mail mailing list about the environment out of Carnegie Mellon University, features news sources, data bases, bulletin boards, chat rooms and links to other nonprofit organizations. A featured item this week: "Your Clothing Is Killing You" (a plea for organic clothing).
The Environmental Protection Agency is another logical place to visit. The agency has a fairly sophisticated site that is constantly updated and aimed at a variety of audiences.
For businesses, of course, making sense of complicated environmental laws is not easy. An attempt to make them easier to understand can be found at the site of the Environmental Compliance Assistance Center, a partnership of the EPA, industry and Front Range Community College in Colorado.
The Pace University School of Law's Global Warming Central site focuses on the debate on global warming and provides useful data and links for understanding the controversial issues.
The Environmental News Network, which bills itself as "the environmental science supersite," provides news culled from various media outlets. The site also offers audio reports using Real Audio software, and users can sign up for a free e-mail newsletter.
Two other comprehensive sources of environmental information are the sites of the World Wildlife Fund (which offers a free screen saver and a nature quiz) and the World Resources Institute, a research group in Washington.
One place to find environmental sites is the search engine Yahoo, which has special sections dedicated to El Niņo and smog.
Given the nature of those involved in environmental issues, it is not surprising that advocacy plays an important role in many sites. Take the Environmental Defense Fund site, for example. It covers subjects like "Reversing Decline of New England Fisheries," "Something to Hide: The Sorry State of Plastics Recycling" and "Global Warming: Our Nation's Capital at Risk."
A timely page even deals with tips for a "green Halloween" (among them: trick-or-treating with pillow cases and canvas bags instead of plastic bags, and composting leftover jack-o'-lanterns).
The Natural Resources Defense Council site allows visitors to send e-mail queries to its experts on environmental subjects and provides links to other organizations that are environmentally friendly.
The site of the Sierra Club, the United States' largest grass-roots environmental group, also has information about protecting the earth and details of the organization's Chico Mendes award, which is named after the late Brazilian environmentalist.
The National Wildlife Federation's site offers a section for colleges and tips on how students can get involved in conservation and other ecological issues.
Greenpeace, the environmental advocacy group, uses its site to promote its activities in a not-so-subtle way, outlining various campaigns against pollution, nuclear weapons and hazardous chemicals.
While most advocacy groups campaign against problems that they attribute to businesses, there are companies that favor environmental restraint. The Greenmoney Online Guide, which promotes "responsibility from the supermarket to the stock market," has articles about, and links to, companies that are "green friendly."
Environmentally conscious tourism, or ecotourism, is also represented on the Web. Try the Ecotourism Society's site and its guidelines for "socially responsible travel."
The death of the singer John Denver in a plane accident earlier this month has also drawn considerable attention to the environmental issues he championed. The Windstar Foundation, which Denver co-founded, has a site that explains those issues and the group's goals, as well as providing details about Denver's life as an environmentalist.
Of course, there is another side to environmental advocacy. One of the sites with a conservative point of view is global warming.org, which is part of the National Consumer Coalition. Visitors can learn about "Global Warming Science and Policy Scam" and how "Al Gore Proposes Birth Control and Abortion to Stop Global Warming."
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