10 Online Ways to Save The World

NICK DOUGLAS — Saving the world isn't just for doctors in Africa and technocrats in San Jose. They need funding, processing power, and support: and that's just what you have. You don't even need to move your lazy butt. Just stop reading blogs and Digg posts and take a minute to save the world using these ten sites.

10. World Community Grid: When you're not using it, your computer can fight AIDS, muscular dystrophy, and cancer. After you download and install this program, the World Community Grid uses your computer's idle time to process data for any of several world-changing medical projects. WCG treats every computer as part of a giant processor: your computer downloads data, crunches it, and sends the info back to the Grid. If a crucial part of a medical cure is found using your computer, WCG will let you share the glory.

9. The Hunger Site: The Hunger Site and its siblings (the Breast Cancer, Child Health, Literacy, Rainforest, and Animal Rescue Sites) are simple to use: Click the button, and it donates the value of 1.1 cups of staple food (or saving 11.4 square feet of rainforest, or other granular donations). The sites are legit, and they raise their funds by hosting ads (many of which advertise other world-saving causes). You can click each site's button once per day.

8. MoveOn.org: Political decision shape the world, but the people shape political decisions. MoveOn.org needs signatures for online petitions. Their causes include protecting Internet freedom, stopping Iraqi troop escalation, and saving seniors from paying unfair Medicare penalties. At MoveOn, you can do more than sign a petition; you can join a rally or host an event.

7. Meetup: Get into offline activism through a meetup like Mother Jones in San Francisco, the Empowered Black Women's Network in NYC, or the Father's Rights Meetup in Missouri City.

6. Trickle Up: Donate money (even just $25) toward microloans to businesses in the developing world, like this program in Mali, the third-poorest country in the world, where Trickle Up helps entrepreneurs go from earning under 50 cents a day to $7 a day.

5. Prosper: This loan site helps groups of people support individuals or businesses and get a return for their investment. Help a family consolidate their credit or help someone start a small business.

4. Distributed Proofreading: Project Gutenberg puts public-domain books online for free. But between scanning the books and offering the text files, someone needs to proofread. That's what the volunteers at Distributed Proofreading do. All you need to do is offer a human eye to a scanned page and its computer-made text version. No grammar or spelling skills required; just make the new text match the original. Give the world something good to read.

3. CivicSpace: Take a cause of your own online, get online donors and volunteers, and manage a site without fussing over every technical detail. Or if you work with technical details, become a vendor or developer.

2. Your blog: Write an entry about the sites above and encourage others to take action. Or promote world-saving sites through Digg, Twitter, Reddit, Delicious, or a pay-it-forward site called Six Degrees.

1. The Mars Society: The world's shot. War, famine, all the misery on Earth. Forget it dude, let's go to Mars.