How can we make technology more environmentally friendly? Technology is one of the most significant contributors to the deterioration of our environment. Imagine, its CO2 emissions have exceeded those of the aerospace industry. Simple acts such as sharing a viral video may seem inconsequential, but repeated millions of times this is a horse of a different colour.
The impact is manyfold and goes way beyond electricity consumption. But who’s to blame? The drug user (after all, there is such a thing as technological addiction) or the dealer fo the drug? While it is easy to put the blame on technology vendors (hard, soft, servers, cloud …) the main offenders, if the word is a suitable one, are undoubtedly those who consume them.
How can we make technology more environmentally friendly
As a cycling enthusiast who uses his bike for his daily commute, I realise there is no day without “smombies” (Smartphone Zombies) on my way. Apart from the danger they cause to others and themselves, they are food for thought for what seems to me to be a necessary debate, for us, our societies and the entire planet: how far can we go by locking ourselves up in an overflow of technology?
My proposal for a more environmentally friendly technology would be to go back to the source of its use, i.e. ourselves.
For example, make a more reasoned and reasonable use of social media, sharing and especially videos. Like my friend Bruno Fridlansky who stopped making them because of the humongous environmental footprint of video content.
But when we look at the Lean ICT diagram shared by Deutsche Welle, we realise that efforts are needed in all areas.
Just removing viral videos from your smartphone won’t be enough, especially in a context of soaring populations and booming phone equipment in developing countries.
The effort must affect all users, professional and personal and all behaviours: Storing fewer files in the cloud, charging your devices less frequently or even suppressing unnecessary devices, buying used computers and phones – and reselling them, deleting unneeded files, using the cloud only for vital tasks, and limiting cloud synchronisation. Using fewer connected objects and using the sun and one’s sense of direction to find one’s way rather than a GPS. Avoiding to type the URLs of known websites into Google, keeping away from surfingthe Internet to kill time, forbidding oneself to crunch billions of data where hundreds would suffice if you spend a little time using your head, and above all limiting the unfortunate use of email which leads us to pile up useless, expensive and stressful messages, etc.
The list is endless. But we can’t wait for a new piece of technology, one which would be even more resource-intensive, to allow us to store even more data so that we don’t have to ask ourselves the question of their real usefulness.
Unfortunately, I’m not as morally correct as Bruno. I still have my Apple Watch that I use all the time, too many computers that I’m too slow at reselling, I spend too much time on social and I hardly respect any of the advice I have given above.
The only sure thing, however, is that one (and I) will have to get started. As with tobacco, the future will involve greater abstinence. I quit smoking almost 30 years ago, and it was, in retrospect, the best decision inmy life.
What about technology though, especially when my job depends on it? The question remains open.