Thursday, November 1, 2007

Link of the Week: EarthTrends

In honor of former Vice President Al Gore's recent win of the Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental work related to climate change, I thought I'd list a web resource called EarthTrends. EarthTrends self-describes as "a comprehensive online database, maintained by the World Resources Institute [WRI], that focuses on the environmental, social, and economic trends that shape our world."

These are the same folks who put out a well-known biennial World Resources report, which is available online at their website. Sawyer Library also owns printed versions of these reports, published by Oxford University Press, so if you'd like to browse through paper versions, come in and take a look at our reference holdings.

EarthTrends includes current news links right on its opening page. But it organizes much of the rest of its content according to Research Topics which include Coastal & Marine Ecosystems, Water Resources & Freshwater Ecosystems, Climate & Atmosphere, Population, Health, & Human Well-being, Economics,Business, & the Environment, Energy & Resources, Biodiversity & Protected Areas, Agriculture & Food, Forests, Grasslands, & Drylands, Environmental Governance & Institutions, and Special Collections. In each category, there is a Searchable Database, Maps, Country Profiles, Features and Data Tables.

Articles and tables are available fulltext and often links are provided to other WRI materials, or to useful resources elsewhere on the web.

Because of its currency and "statistical, graphic, and analytical data in easily accessible formats," EarthTrends can be a valuable resource. However, keep in mind that the WRI " is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research" into an environmental advocacy role. Their stated "mission is to move human society to live in ways that protect Earth's environment and its capacity to provide for the needs and aspirations of current and future generations."

Although Al Gore would no doubt applaud their efforts, the materials here certainly do not pass academic muster in situations where a teacher is requiring the use of peer-reviewed scholarly journal literature. In other situations, this website can be a valuable one.

By the way, it is worth noting that Vice President Gore won the Nobel in conjunction with another group, the IPCC. I featured them in our blog several months back. To take a look at that entry, click here.

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