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Role Playing (Games) Businesses The Internet

Dell Offers Virtual Saplings For Earth Day 68

theodp writes "The expansion of Dell's Plant a Tree for Me program into Second Life has the Silicon Valley Sleuth wondering if this represents a new low in Earth Day marketing tie-ins. You may wonder, too, after reading Dell's invitation to its Earth Day Party at Dell Island in SL ('get your own tree sapling to plant in Second Life!')."
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Dell Offers Virtual Saplings For Earth Day

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...I get some chains and tie my Second Life avatar to some trees in the virtual forest?
    • ...I get some chains and tie my Second Life avatar to some trees in the virtual forest?
      That sounds potentially, ah, "kinky". Especially the bit about the chains. I understand they're fairly popular there. If you go for it, you could find yourself making some, ah, interesting new friends.
  • by kallisti777 ( 46059 ) <TimWalker@gmail. c o m> on Sunday April 22, 2007 @03:04AM (#18830109) Homepage Journal
    For Dell's environmental initiatives to make any difference in the real world, people need to get involved. That takes publicity and advertising. I'm sure we're about to get flooded by math majors explaining how each virtual tree required X pounds of fossil fuels to appear on the server, but frankly I don't care. Greenpeace prints their literature on paper, after all.

    If this is really all we have to complain about, the world is already perfect. Kudos to Dell for finding a way to bring attention to their Plant A Tree program.

    (Note: none of that was/is the opinion of my employer).
    • Actually, Dell's environmental initiatives are quite laudable:

      Is Dell the brand for EcoGeeks? []
      • by asninn ( 1071320 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @03:42AM (#18830261)
        That's nice, but I fail to see what's so great about this. Unless I'm misunderstanding things, it's the customer that donates the money, right? Dell is just collecting and forwarding it, and while that is certainly nice, it's not really a big deal. Call me back when they actually donate money themselves. (And as for "virtually" eliminating lead in certain components etc... that's nice, too, but again, I fail to see what the big deal is, or how it sets them apart from their competitors.)

        And in any case, "planting" trees on Second Life might not be a new low, but it certainly is pretty stupid - even if you can't or don't want to plant a real tree, it'd make much more sense to tell people "please leave your computer turned off and don't play Second Life today". Yeah, it'd just be a feel-good measure that'd hardly have any real impact, but planting *virtual* trees? Come on. That's such a blatant attempt at commercialisation that I can understand the submitter's sentiments.
        • by Raideen ( 975130 )
          What's the difference between the customer paying for it or Dell footing the bill? Where do you think Dell got the money to foot the bill? Anyway, if only the virtual trees weren't just some PR move, that would be nice. For instance, if they sold different trees in Second Life that translated into the planting of a real tree [], then that would be interesting.
      • Actually, Dell's environmental initiatives are quite laudable:

        Is Dell the brand for EcoGeeks? -- []

        For once in my life I found the only thing that made me ashamed about using an Apple computer; that being, their lack of vision regarding the environment. Funny, this coming from a company domineered over by a CEO portrayed by popular media as being some socially conscious, acid-dropping, wannabe hippie. []
        • I'm an enthusiastic Mac user, but I've signed that petition. I also run an environmental website (, where the issue will be coming up again soon ...

          So, Apple, if you're reading this -- please green my Apple!

    • Actually, I'm with you on this one. Calling attention to something good is not a bad thing. It's only bad when they are using it as a ruse to fool the public. Somehow I don't think that Dell is doing that. It seems to me, and perhaps I'm fooled, that Dell is trying with great vigor to be relevant. There is nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with that at all. Google says 'Do no evil' and it is accepted. Dell says 'ok, lets try Linux, lets do some be green stuff' and somehow that is bad?

      Sincerity is hard
    • by chromatic ( 9471 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @03:20AM (#18830179) Homepage

      For Dell's environmental initiatives to make any difference in the real world, people need to get involved. That takes publicity and advertising.

      Wow, that really raised my awareness of the value of raising awareness! I'm nominating your post for the 2007 Awareness awards.

    • by zCyl ( 14362 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @05:13AM (#18830587)

      For Dell's environmental initiatives to make any difference in the real world, people need to get involved.

      Err, yes. Everyone can get involved with planting virtual trees so they don't have to think about real ones?

      I feel like this completely misses the point of Earth Day, since the focus seems to be on improving a fake environment.
    • No, I call this bullshit; publicity is good and all but these "virtual trees" and this "virtual party" are burning real life fuel to be displayed. Sure, Greenpeace might print flyers on paper, but paper can be recycled (in fact, most of the paper used today is 50% or more recycled materials) and besides that the organization itself does real things to help the environment.

      Dell's initiative means jack shit, because it's the customers who donate the money which Dell passes along; it's a feel good measure for
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by maxume ( 22995 )
        What about Earth Day isn't a feel good measure for consumers? Planting trees and what not is cute, but it isn't going to do anything to mediate poor behavior the other 364 days of the year, except that it 'raises awareness', so I'm not sure attacking a bastard corporation that re-purposed resources that were going to be used anyway(unless you are on crack you won't think that Second Life's servers are working harder because of this) in order to help with the awareness raising makes much sense.

        A much better
        • It's really weird to see somebody criticizing the act of actually planting a tree or two, and ending with a 'give money to the WWF' approach.

          That sounds terribly like a 'leave it to the professionals' approach. It has some merit, but you somehow missed the point that when you plant a tree, it's there for those other 364 days you were ranting about.

          I've planted about 70 trees on our land in the last 5 years, and I follow through on it by tending them, etc. so they're almost all still alive and growing bigge
          • by maxume ( 22995 )
            My family has planted hundreds(or thousands...) of trees on our land. We also try to sell them, but that's beside the point. It isn't a 'leave it to the professionals' approach, it's a 'they buy huge tracts of land in countries with stable governments for $20 an acre' approach. New trees will do some good in the US, but we already have quite a large amount of land set aside to be as it is, admittedly with some amount of timber extraction(but the Forest Service goes about this in a very sustainable manner, t
    • Greenpeace prints their literature on paper, after all.

      This makes me laugh, actually. I'm a member of the UK's Green Party (not for any specific environmental reason, just for the rest of their policies) and every couple of months or so they send me through a massive bundle of magazines and such which I...don't do anything with, and have to throw away.

      Quite ironic, really.
      • every couple of months or so they send me through a massive bundle of magazines and such which I...don't do anything with, and have to throw away.

        What really burns me is when credit card companies and banks try to get customers to sign up for online statements with the ruse that, "it's better for the environment", but won't stop sending their incessant load of junk mail for other services they offer. You can't even ask them to stop sending it! No, Bank of America, I am not interested in receiving a free toaster just for signing up for a CD with a middling interest rate!

        OT: Regarding your sig. That is my favorite song by PT (Warszawa version

  • Ahh ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by kitzilla ( 266382 ) <.paperfrog. .at.> on Sunday April 22, 2007 @03:04AM (#18830113) Homepage Journal
    ... I can smell the virtual fresh air already.
  • by femto ( 459605 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @03:21AM (#18830187) Homepage
    the energy used to run the servers to render a virtual tree is about equivalent to burning a real tree?
  • by nih ( 411096 )
    All we need now is a 'Seti@home' type 'growtrees@home' program
    and the earth is saved!
    yes, that will work.
  • by Rick Richardson ( 87058 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @05:10AM (#18830573) Homepage
    McDonalds has real saplings in Minnesota for free on Earth Day.

    Did you know that twice as much wood is grown in Minnesota compared to harvesting?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jimmydevice ( 699057 )
      Rick Richardson (87058)
      "Did you know that twice as much wood is grown (planted - fixed it for ya ) in Minnesota compared to harvesting?"

      And the're probably all about 5" high or dead. Just like in the west.
    • by bprime ( 734645 )
      Did you know that twice as much wood is grown in Minnesota compared to harvesting?

      So Minnesota imports lots of lumber?
    • by 328iS ( 684085 )
      The same could be said for the Playboy Mansion.
  • lmbo (Score:2, Funny)

    by kakofb ( 725561 )
    The trees might offset the enormous amounts of methane generated from fat nerds farting and burping in second life.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
      I take offense to that; I don't play Second Life!
      (well, actually I do, but that doesn't prove anything)
  • Plant a real tree (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rackrent ( 160690 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @05:46AM (#18830699)
    Join the National Arbor Day Foundation [] and they'll send you 10 living saplings for cheap (10-15 bucks).

    Of course, that means that people might have to get outside once in a while.
    • And I pulled up over a couple of dozen maple saplings today. Damn things would take over the yard, given a chance.
    • by ivan256 ( 17499 )
      Maybe it's just around here, but aren't saplings something that, you know, just grow when there are other trees around dropping seeds? Unless you're getting a tree that is well established (at least a few years old), or you want a particular non-native species, why would you buy a sapling? Either they are clear-cutting near you or they aren't. Planting a sapling here and there makes zero difference in the long run.
  • So many jokes, so little time:

    Dell offers new rootkit for Second Life: virtual trees.

    Dell branches out into Second Life Phony Industry with Trunk service.

    Dell leafs computer business to enter lucrative virtual nursery business.

  • While Dell is a for profit company (whose equipment I happen to use and like), Avatar Action Center is a non-profit organization that is focussed on sustainability education and empowerment and is hosting special events all Earth Day in Second Life. This is an international effort with group participants providing information about wind and solar energy, short videos about global warming and alternative energy and several live music performances. Visit our sim in Second Life at []
  • i can burn these "virtual trees" in my wood stove and keep warm?

    Virtual trees, for a phony world, behind a sheet of glass. Servers and hosts eating power. Ya, that will help the world. Each tree takes a little bit more power to compute and render.
  • by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @07:06AM (#18831077)

    Viewed from above of course. There, I feel better already. Gotta go now, I wanted to take my humvee for an offroad drive today.
  • In America, when you kill a tree, you have to plant a tree (or rather, two trees). So we've got a law on the books that says papermills either tree farm; get trees from outside the country; use corn stalks; or have trees planted to replace the ones they kill. Development companies are pretty well stuck having trees planted when they tear out a forest to build houses.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Irvu ( 248207 )
      Not exactly. While that law is on the books in some places I do not believe that it is fully national. Moreover it encodes a rather incorrect understanding of the way things work. Firstly 1 old-growth redwood != 2 saplings. So the net impact is not balanced out and if we kill old trees faster than the new ones can grow then we will still have a destructive impact.

      Seconslu the costs to the environment is not entirely about the trees, there is the brush and underbrsh, the animals, etc all of which are dis
    • Oh, come on! You're not going to need to cooerce the paper mills to use farmed trees. Tree farm pine is much, much better for producing paper pulp. It's consistent and uniform. They certainly don't want randomly clearcut 'old growth' wood for that sort of production. And since most of the forestland they use is clearly developed and operating, there isn't that much encroachment onto new land going on.

      A lot of the 'encroachment' onto new land, i.e. cutting of old growth forest, is for things like cattle
  • This is so lame on Dells part, I don't even know where to start.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday April 22, 2007 @10:36AM (#18831641) Homepage Journal
    Is there a service which lets me click to plant a real tree somewhere on the real Earth?

    I'd love to see a service which calculates the CO2 impact of, say, an email server (and its own operations), and orders trees planted to offset that CO2 by the amount trees consume during that time.

    People could get periodic reports of their "email pollution" and the trees they've planted to balance it. With an offer to buy more trees to offset the rest of the Greenhouse pollution we generate, including writing and reading this message.
    • by byjove ( 567441 )
      The ability to plant real trees [] is exactly what Dell's event is supposed to be about.
    • You could always just go out and buy a spade and plant a few trees. Heck, you could even shut off your PC while doing it, and produce less CO2 in the process.

      The idea of a server 'ordering new trees planted' sounds kinda weird. It implies infrastructure out there ready and waiting to receive an order to plant new trees. Why set it up to wait for an order? Just keep planting the trees. It sounds a bit like self gratification to me.
      • I've already planted plenty of trees. And I've paid to have them planted. Me planting a tree isn't scalable, though the polluting email servers sure are.

        I didn't just imply an infrastructure, I asked if it existed. It sounds like you didn't even read my post before replying to challenge me - talk about self gratification.
    • Hi Doc Ruby,

      Last week New York social media agency Converseon, in partnership with Colorado non-profit Plant it 2020, launched an island in Second Life where you can buy a virtual tree and have a corresponding tree planted in the real world.

      You can visit the island in SL here: s/139/127/31/ []

      For 300 Linden (a bit over US$1) you can purchase and plant a virtual copy of one of 10 species of rainforest tree. This will spur the planting of a matching tree

  • Why not plant some real fucking trees and make a difference instead of this "feel good" marketing shit.
    • Ignoring, for a moment, the fact that an individual "planting a tree" is really nothing more than "feel good shit" that actually has little or no discernable impact on the global environment, how can Dell's Second Life promotion have anything other than a positive impact on its program to plant real tres?
      • If individuals don't plant trees, who does? I can't think of a process whereby trees are planted by anybody but individuals. Perhaps on teams, but it's a one-at-a-time effort.

        It's weird that you dont't think planting trees has any discernable impact on the global environment. What's your proposal?
        • by maxume ( 22995 )
          Trees make loads of seeds. The seeds turn into new trees. It has been this way for millions of years. That's part of the point of my other comment, if there is space set aside and protected for them, the trees will generally use it.
    • They're just following the lead of prominent Democrats on how we solve global climate change. Don't reduce carbon, BUY carbon credits from some Eskimo!
  • How about for a donation, you get a virtual tree-growing game or something, and the money goes to sponsor an actual tree planting or rainforest-buying program somewhere? A few dollars is enough to pay some kid on summer break to plant trees for an hour or so.

    You could call it "SimForest." Pay-per-sapling. Premium prices for fancy trees. Runs on the desktop like a wallpaper. Lighting changes by time of day. Branches blow in the breeze...

    Sorry. Getting distracted. Anyway, selling game content for char
  • wow this has got to be the dumbest thing ever. i mean is this a cheap publicity gimmick or something resulting out of genuine environmental concern? since it won't really have any effect on the environment other than possibly dissuading real people from planting real trees, i have to surmise that it is a half baked ill conceived attempt at appearing to be environmentally friendly(not that dell isn't) that will actually result in further apathy for the environment.
  • I miss the real trees. I hope the server farm that this virtual forest will reside in is green. It would lessen (but not eliminate) the pointlessness.
  • The stupid housing community I'm currently renting in keeps trying to grow grass in places that really don't want grass, using the usual massive seed-fertilize-water approach. They dumped some seed and overfertilized again this morning; I spread six cans of wildflower seed into the area while they were at lunch break. I have high hopes for colorful ground cover this time. =)
  • *waits for Apple to hit back with the iTree*
  • Do I get to use these trees towards my Carbon Credit account?????

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