I don’t do a lot on Facebook, mainly because outside of a terrifically fun copyright-infringing game of Scrabble, I can’t figure out what good it is. I’ve been updating my “status”–although honestly who cares about that?–because the iPhone Facebook application makes it so easy. But that’s pretty thin gruel. Like so much of the Internet, if your time has little or no value Facebook is as good a place as any to squander the minutes of your life, but God only knows what actual living gets done between all the SuperPoking and Wall Writing and so forth.

Even noble attempts at some kind of online social justice–surely better than no attempt at all–have been more style than substance. Lil Green Patch, an application which exhorts members with the slogan “Together we can fight Global Warming!” ends up little better than an electronic version of a “Support Our Troops” magnet on the back of an SUV.

I’m not saying that just to be snarky. (If I come across that way, consider it a bonus.) The feel-good Lil Green Patch application had 745,666 daily users as of their most recent tally and for the month of June contributed $44,650 to the Nature Conservancy’s project to save rain forests. Feel free to check my math, but I think that means each Lil Green Patch user is contributing almost six cents a month. The earth should be getting cooler any minute now.

If you’d really like to contribute, how about send a few actual dollars (or Euros) to the Nature Conservancy?

You could also check your carbon footprint and take steps to reduce it. In our case, we have estimated emissions of 41 tons of CO2 per year which compares nicely to the US 5-person household average carbon footprint of 130 tons of CO2 per year but not so well against the world average of 28 annual tons.

If you believe that offsets work–and I’m very skeptical at present–you can even buy them and reduce your carbon footprint to a theoretical zero, something I absolutely will do if I am every convinced that the system works. (We already use the more expensive “green energy” option from PGE for starters.)

Again, I don’t want to denigrate the efforts of people honestly trying to use Facebook to do a good thing. But I’m afraid I get the sense that all Lil Green Patch does is offer a fig leaf of mental comfort to those who are concerned about global warming but not so much that, you know, they actually want to be inconvenienced by doing something about it.