We use carbon-neutral servers here, but it’s still not quite enough.
Is there anything out there that is already leading in this area?
It’s probable you’ve already replied to a couple of emails today, sent some chat messages and maybe performed a quick internet search. As the day wears on you will doubtless spend even more time browsing online, uploading images, playing music and streaming video.
Each of these activities you perform online comes with a small cost – a few grams of carbon dioxide are emitted due to the energy needed to run your devices and power the wireless networks you access. Less obvious, but perhaps even more energy intensive, are the data centres and vast servers needed to support the internet and store the content we access over it.
Although the energy needed for a single internet search or email is small, approximately 4.1 billion people, or 53.6% of the global population, now use the internet. Those scraps of energy, and the associated greenhouse gases emitted with each online activity, can add up.
The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, according to some estimates. It is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally, explains Mike Hazas, a researcher at Lancaster University. And these emissions are predicted to double by 2025.
I don’t think there’s as much we can do as we are made to believe constantly by this media propaganda that portrays the common citizen as a villain simply because they use electric kettles. All the while completely (and I’d bet intentionally) ignoring all the factories using tech from the 80s who still pump crazy amounts of CO2 in the air and tons of chemical pollutants in our water. But somehow we’re the enemy for not buying the most expensive electrical car?
As for the IT industry, I personally strive to buy tech that uses less electricity – that’s all I can really do. But it’s not always easy especially for a programmer: we need some pretty strong tech in order to be successful sometimes and it usually isn’t sipping the least possible amounts of power. Additionally, the whole chip-making industry is hugely eco-unfriendly.
But, stuff like AMD’s embedded series (3000 / 4000) where you can literally replace any normal big-ish office computer that gobbles 200-300W with a mini-box that’s stronger and cooler and consumes about 40W are tech replacement cycles that many businesses should strive to adopt.
Continuing from below, I think my reply is better suited to this topic.
@dimitarvp I’m one such person you describe. My employer’s office is 32 km away from my home. That’s been more the rule than the exception for my entire working life, and it’s no different for many, many folks in my city and surrounds. Plus our public transit is laughable. I bought a hybrid vehicle to reduce my environmental impact from the commute, and I also carpool—well I did…but I will again when we go back to the office. I know that’s not specific to the tech industry, but I’m lucky to have the means and opportunity to take advantage of it.
Relatedly, something that technology professionals are often very well-equipped and -positioned for is working from home. I’ve had and employed the technical capability to work remotely at every single job I’ve had since I started my professional career in 2001. It slashes the commute by up to 100%, and can reduce the need for as much end-user hardware if employees BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Covid has forced the issue for lots of employers, mine included, and I think we might see some positive, permanent change once we’re finally on the other side of it.