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by Rebecca Helm-Ropelato

Last Wednesday, April 26, 2007, I received an e-mail from The Digital Universe Foundation announcing an innovative new website, one that epitomizes the treasure that the Internet can offer to the world public.

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"A dream has finally come true. After four years of hard work, the first of what will someday be thousands of the most trustworthy portals on the Web, is about to launch. It will be free of corporate/commercial bias, and FREE to the public forever!

 

http://earthportal.org is the result of 650 of the world's top scientists in 49 countries (so far) coming together to produce the highest quality, non-commercial, non-profit resource for information about our planet anywhere in the World."

According to the website, The Earth Portal has three components: the Encyclopedia of Earth, with over 2,000 articles, is produced and reviewed by 700 scholars from 46 countries; the EarthForum provides commentary from scholars and discussions with the general public; and the EarthNews offers news stories on environmental issues drawn from many sources.

The site officially launched last Friday (April 28). Featured on the home page, as an example, is an article titled Cardinal Says Pope Should Talk Climate Change with Bush  - it is a summary of recent remarks by Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Also on the homepage is a short video featuring congratulatory comments from renown scientist Jane Goodall.

The content of the website is solely in English, but perhaps that will change in the future (especially if enough people write and request translations into the other major languages). All content, however, is free and available to others for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license.

With a daily deluge of terrible news about all the tragic events on our planet, I found it heartening to see this website arrive. It shines a light on the many people who are working to find solutions to our many problems and who are dedicated to creating a more compassionate and peaceful world community.