Who knew tackling global warming could be so fun?
A Boston-area entrepreneur has launched a Web site called Carbonrally that aims to marry online games and social networks with consumers' desire to shrink their carbon footprint.
Here's how it works. The company behind Carbonrally, Carbon Challenge, regularly posts a "challenge" that translates into a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing filtered tap water over bottled water, for example, translates into reducing 3 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a week. (No plastic bottles involved.)
Individuals or teams can take up the challenge. Typically, it's the "dark green" consumers who take on the challenges, says founder Jason Karas, who studied environmental management but took a detour into Internet management for 10 years.
But ganging up to take on other teams, in a friendly competition kind of way, is what gets people really fired up.
A group of 17 "tweenagers" from New Jersey just passed Google's Pittsburgh office in carbon reductions. Google Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is duking it out with Google's Cambridge crew. "We're taking Cambridge down!" the Steel Town Googlers say.
There are already several carbon calculators out there available from carbon offset companies and other sources. Make Me Sustainable is another Web site for managing your carbon diet. Carbon Rally wants to keep it quick and light, while tapping into people's tribal competitive spirit.
"We don't have to get people worked up and bummed out about climate change," Karas said. "We've giving them a place where they have an opportunity to act on that emotion."
The company expects to make revenue by having its challenges sponsored by corporations that offer environmentally oriented products or are looking to green up their image.
Another planned feature is to have "carbon ralliers" themselves offer challenges to others.